Roses of Britain
Ability Scores: +2 to one ability score of your choice
Speed: 6 squares
Languages: English, choice of one other
Bonus Feat: See Player’s Handbook pg. 46 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 272.
Bonus Skill: See Player’s Handbook pg. 46 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 272.
Human Defense Bonus: See Player’s Handbook pg. 46 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 272.
Heroic Effort: See Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 272.
Christian legend holds that the creation of humankind was the concluding act in God’s formation of the world. God shaped dust into the form of the first male human, Adam, and then exhaled His own breath to give the man life. God thereafter created the first human female, Eve, by shaping her from a rib plucked from the slumbering Adam. It is said that both male and female humans were fashioned to reflect God’s own likeness, and for this reason most Christian humans assert that their physical form, among those of all the races, is the closest to divine perfection. For a time, this first human pair lived in a state of immortal bliss within the fabled Garden of Eden. Eventually, however, the fallen angel Satan assumed the form of a serpent and tempted them to transgress against God’s dictates. As a punishment, God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden and into the broader world of mortality and hardship. Most humans in Christendom accept this legend as an accurate account of their race’s origins, although other tales are still told in some corners of England. In the ancient Greek accounts, the outcast primordial Prometheus fashioned humans from mystic clay. In the tales of the Northmen, the deity Odin is said to have created the first humans, Ask and Embla, from a pair of trees, or from feral creatures on whom he bestowed the spark of intellect.
By 17,000 years ago, both humans and their halfling kin were dwelling in primitive clans on the tundras of northern and central Europe (see Halflings for more details on this race’s origins). Around 13,500 years ago, humans were among the first races to migrate from Gaul to Albion, as glaciers receding in the wake of the Long Winter revealed new lands for settlement. In those primeval days, humankind was not the mighty political and military force that it is in the present era. For millennia, humans were merely one of many savage races that dwelled in Albion. They formed alliances and rivalries with the halflings, and eventually with the elves and goblins. Over the centuries, the human clans suffered under a succession of savage tyrannies, such as the empire of the goblin shaman-kings in the third millennium B.C., or the pitiless Gigantocracy of the second millennium B.C. It was not until the twelfth century B.C., with the arrival of Brutus of Troy, that humanity took its first steps on its journey to dominance in Albion. Brutus and his allies toppled the Gigantocracy, and soon after Brutus claimed the mantle of the first King of Albion.
Over the next twelve centuries, a succession of human kings claiming descent from Brutus asserted their rulership of the island. In practice, these so-called Kings of Albion were rarely able to exert their authority beyond a cluster of fortresses, from which they dispatched their savage warriors to crush nearby rivals. Cymru (Wales) and Alba (Scotland) had their own self-proclaimed kings, and many humans in the far-flung corners of Albion did not acknowledge Brutus’ descendants as anything more than great chieftains. However, local tribes of elves, halflings, shifters, and other races soon learned to respect the power that the human Kings of Albion were able to wield within their dominions. Meanwhile, the demographic edge that humankind had been building over millennia began to rapidly expand. Pressing the advantage afforded by their race’s numbers, petty human chieftains throughout Albion began to expand their domains aggressively. By the 8th century B.C., Albion’s humans were utilizing arcane and divine magic extensively to claim territory, resources, and sources of mystic power.
By the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in the first century A.D., the island was effectively under the control of humankind. With the exception of a handful of eladrin brightholds, non-humans held no significant centers of power. The arrival of mighty Rome merely solidified the grip of humankind on Britain, ensuring that no significant non-human military or political power would emerge again on the island. For the past fifteen centuries, humans have unequivocally dominated Britain’s history: as an imperial Roman diocese, as a collection of petty pagan kingdoms, and now as a unified Christian monarchy. Although threats to that human dominance have periodically emerged—whether fearsome goblin uprisings, rapacious orc hordes, or chromatic dragons bloated on mad dreams of power—none have been able to topple the race from its perch.
Place in the World
English humans are a diverse lot, more so than any other race, and generalizing about them is a perilous proposition. The race encompasses nobles and beggars, soldiers and merchants, priests and bandits. It has given rise to both valorous heroes and conniving villains, but the vast majority of English humans simply wish to live in peace and safety. The relative strength and prosperity of England’s humans can lead to racial arrogance at times, especially among the nobility and clergy, who tend to look down upon other races as lesser beings. Other humans are more charitable in their outlook, especially if they spent their early life dwelling alongside members of other races.
Humans can be found in every corner of England, as the race is adept at scratching out a living in nearly any environs. Human villages and towns cover the landscape of the Kingdom, and mighty human cities such as London and York serve as bustling centers of trade and culture. Ruins throughout England attest to the thousands of years of human activity that have shaped life on the island. Most members of the other English races accept the dominance of humankind as a fact of life, although their are exceptions. The eladrin still cling to the gleaming glories of the past, in the hopes that human civilization will eventually crumble, while some elves and shifters will unhesitatingly attack humans that trespass on their wilderness domains. Other races, such as dragonborn and haflings, have integrated into human society peacefully and successfully.
Like members of their race the world over, England’s human heroes excel in whatever path they choose to pursue. They favor no particular class, as their natural adaptability allows them to develop an affinity for almost any way of life. Nearly all English humans are Christian in the present era. Most human adherents worship Jesus directly, but also offer prayers to a plethora of saints. However, almost all English humans have a particular reverence for Mary the Blessed Virgin in her role as the chosen protector of their race, and for St. George in his role as the patron of England. Pagan humans are exceedingly rare in the Kingdom. Heathen non-humans are tolerated to a limited extent, but both Crown and the Church take a dim view of human subjects who reject Christ and his saints. However, the worship of the old gods persists in the wildest corners of the Kingdom, much to the consternation of the unlucky bishops charged with overseeing the spiritual well-being of such hinterlands. In particular, small numbers of rural humans in Wales are thought revere the Mabinogi in addition to the Christian saints.