Dathagan, the hungry deep, the coiling tentacles, the shapeless thing at the bottom of the sea is arguably the most crude and thuggish human god (which is saying something). Of the three, it is the most interested in brute corruption and physical deformity, and while capable of the subtle whispers that drive people to form cults and succumb to madness, it prefers violent mutilation. Disfigurement of self and others is a holy rite to the followers of Dathagan, and its cults often attract those born or made hideous by their society's standards.

One of the results of Dathagan's influence is the creation of atavars - also known as living ancestors, throwbacks and savage kindred. Atavars are twisted and backwards mutations of the races of the Wheel, created through prolonged degradation and inbreeding, violent and primitive things from the dawn of time. Possessing only rudimentary intelligence, they lurk in ruins and wild places, making mockery of their civilised kin and wreaking havoc on all around them.

Dwarves alone seem to be immune to this corruption, perhaps because of their serene minds or propensity to enlightenment. Or perhaps their atavars merely lurk deep underground or in lost valleys, biding their time before assailing the high cities and monasteries.

Trolls (Orcish Atavars)


Made from degenerate orcs, trolls often tower over their kin, being anything from one to two times as tall. Their skin has a greenish-brown cast, and is covered with warty knobs and bony spurs. While trolls are happy to use these jagged spikes and horns along with teeth and nails to do their killing, they will armour themselves with beaten scraps of metal and strips of leather and hide when they can take it from their victims, and use stolen, poorly-maintained weapons. Despite this tool-use, they have no language or real culture. Trolls possess an exaggerated form of the sturdy constitution that allows orcs to endure pain and heal well, and is has been known for almost-lethal wounds to knit within hours, and lesser ones to close in minutes.

Trolls divide themselves into rowdy bands of males and females, with no real difference in viciousness or appetite for destruction. When mating season comes, their aggression peaks and they raid nearby areas for food and plunder to secure the best mates. After a sickening orgy, the bands part along gender lines again. Gestation is rapid, taking only a few months, and the offspring are capable of walking and feeding themselves within days - which is fortunate, as unlike the orcs they are made from, trolls lack any sense of parental care. Female offspring remain with their mothers, while males are driven off and must seek out a band of males to live with.

Trolls are most common around the Bay of Terror, due to the proximity of Dathagan's Godfall and the already rather savage population of varaorgs that reside there. However, thanks to the malign emanations of shrines across the land and the actions of the possessed and cultists, they can be found as far afield as the Padishar Empire has spread.

Garuda (Elven Atavars)

The raptorish form of the garuda resembles an elf, but stretched out to half again as high, even more gaunt and angular. They are spindly, emaciated but freakishly strong and swift enough to outrun any of their kin. Their legs bend backwards at the knee, giving the digitigrade stance and loping gait that lets them spring tirelessly across the dunes and plains on their two-toed feet. Pale skin is replaced with knobbly, leathery hide in greenish-white and ivory hues, except where bristly lines of black hair run over the crest of the skull, down the spine and arms. Those long thin arms end in three clawed fingers, which can lock together to make the hand resemble a dagger. The garuda's face is long, triangular, and vicious, slit-nostriled and with a mouth constantly pulled into a lipless grin by the abundance of needle teeth. There is something distinctly bird-like in their appearance, movements and mannerisms that put other races in mind of an hawk watching its prey, or a vulture waiting for them to die.

Garuda lack even the rudimentary society of trolls, being primarily solitary predators - albeit highly intelligent and cunning ones. They roam the wastes, ascending to high places to look for prey with their keen eyes, or crouching low to the ground to search for traces of passage with an innate tracker's eye. Once they have set their sights or minds on a target, they are implacable and relentless, seldom turning aside even for easier kills. Although they hunt and travel alone, garuda often attack in flocks, as several converge on the same prey at once, attracted by some subconscious bloodlust. They fight with blinding speed and ferocity, typically lunging from whatever cover is around or simply sprinting into the midst of prey, slashing with locked blade-claws and impaling their victims to be dragged off and fed upon. On occasion, a male and female garuda will happen to be in heat at the same time when they cross paths on the hunt. This invariably leads to a brief but hideous tangle of scrawny bodies, and the female depositing and abandoning an egg in a small, scratch-built nest some time later. When available, they seem to prefer leaving their eggs in dragon nests, perhaps taking advantage of the fact no other animal would dare approach a clutch of dragon eggs!

Most common in the Blasted Desert, where elves are most populace, garuda can be found anywhere in Zenth where their kin roam - so are the most widespread of atavars. Occasionally, driven by some strange migratory instinct, a flock of a dozen or so garuda will make their way into the Great Basin or the Golden Court, and have to be fought off by orcish or dryad settlements. Although most suited to racing across the plains, garuda can climb very skillfully, and make dangerous opponents in the woods.

Hobgoblins (Goblin Atavars)


The defiled goblins known as hobgoblins are broad, lumpen and blunt things, quite unlike the lean and dagger-sharp features of their kin. Their skin is immensely thick and tough, with a leathery or even rocky texture all over that makes them very resistant to blows. It varies from blue-black to charcoal grey, making them difficult to see against a dark stone background or at night. Golden, animalistic eyes glint under heavy brows and have formidable nightvision, and their teeth are more tusk-like than normal goblins. Hobgoblins wield only the simplest tools of stone and wood, and will not use metal weapons even if they can scavenge them. Likewise, they dress only in loincloths of fur or uncured hide studded with animal bones - if that. Their armoured hides make this no real disadvantage.

Hobgoblins are slightly more intelligent and cultured than trolls. They possess a simplistic language of grunts and snarls, and have some skill at carving wood, knapping stone and skinning animals. The fruits of these labours can be seen in the caves and glades they prefer as lairs. Hobgoblins also possess enough of a conception to feel awe and fear of the gods, and build ugly shrines of piled rock cemented with blood and surrounded by engraved poles in their name. Their society is tribal, and rival tribes will attack each other as happily as they do the races of the Wheel. Tribes are typically lead by the unstable and treacherous alliance of a 'big man', the strongest, toughest and most cunning warrior, and a shaman of the gods. What the tribes call themselves is unknown, but to other races they are usually identified by their favoured method of torture for their victims. Known tribes include the Finger-Gnawers, Skull-Peelers, Emasculators and Eye-Pissers.

Hobgoblins most numerously inhabit the Clashlands, Daaland Mountains, the Black Coast and Chalnfens, usually in the depths of the swamp glades, the hearts of desolate woodlands and festering caverns and other places where their goblin kin fear to tread. They have also been pushed north as far as Tombe's Ascent by orcish incursions, and some colonists of Taiilal in Calerath report seeing white-skinned hobgoblins in the glacial valleys.

Wood Woses (Dryad Atavars)


As dryads are closer to nature than other races of the Wheel, it is fitting that their atavars are closer still. Wood woses are raw, elemental things, twisted masses of vines, stone and sap given animation by the human gods. Their size and form can vary considerably, but usually they are composed of knotted plant matter, roots and twigs, even less humanoid than their kin. Where they differ most is that their gnarled bodies always include intrusions of other materials; animal or humanoid bones, rune-encrusted rock, even crystals, though rarely any kind of metal. Wood woses have no minds, being more like a sorcerer's golem than a living being, and operate purely on whatever evil instincts the gods poured into them.

Those instincts are usually to wait, occupying lonesome groves or abandoned ruins, almost indistinguishable from their surroundings, and slay any dryad or other sapient being that approaches. Once roused, though, they may go on a rampage, seeking out the nearest settlement and wreaking havoc until put down. Sometimes only a single wood wose will be lurking in a given location, but just a likely several will be found together. Driven by some rare cycle, they can create more of themselves by gathering together a pile of plant matter and debris, and infecting it with their sap and dark energies. This small wose will grow over time, accumulating more stone and bone, its rooty sinews growing thicker and larger. There seems to be no maximum size they can reach, and reports tell of wood woses as large as Archons. Dryads do not seem to share the primal revulsion other races have for their atavars; they regard wood woses as nuisances and threats, certainly, but do not hate or fear them especially. They even used the creatures as inspiration for the creation of their own weald wardens.

Wood woses are found in every Court, varying in appearance as suits their local kin. Evergreen Court wood woses, for instances, often incorporate chunks of permafrost and the tusks of walruses and other arctic animals, while those of the Golden Court have bits of menhir and antler woven through their forms. Wood woses have also been found in other, smaller forests, making them a threat to more than just dryads.