The nephilim are a furry, feline race that inhabit both the Empire and Exile. There are communities both friendly and hostile to humans throughout Ermarian. A distinction should be made between nephilim and nepharim.
Nephilim are commonly a bit shorter than humans. They are lithe and weigh far less than the average human, which gives them their speed and their nimbleness. As a feline race, they have an integument of fur and have heads shaped like a cat's. All nephilim have tails, which grants them even greater balance. This is especially necessary for them, since they walk and step largely on their toes; humans, on the contrary, walk and step on their heels.
The color of a nephil's coat varies from one individual to another, but the most common colours range from light grey to yellow, to beige, to brown and finally dark grey. Their eyes are usually coloured blue, yellow or green.
A nephil's ability to see in the dark is renowned, and their sharp vision alone makes them skilled scouts and archers. In addition to keen eyesight, they have very sharp auditory senses. Thanks to their fur, nephilim are also innately resistant to cold, magical or natural. They have good eye-hand coordination and stability, which gives them a natural advantage over the other sentient races in archery, using thrown missiles and overall dexterity.
Nephilim have an average lifespan of close to 40 years and rarely live more than half a century. Some shamans have been said to live even longer than humans, which may be due to their familiarity with alchemy and medicine.
Habitat and society
Nephilim are at home on the surface, mainly in forested regions but also taking shelter in smaller caves. This makes them very adaptable to life in Exile. Nephilim from the caves have met up with large settlements in southeastern Valorim, where they hope to live undisturbed. Other nephilim have integrated into human society, where they are most often found as fletchers, and sometimes as sailors.
They are fierce warriors and have a strong tribal structure. However, clans often engage in raids on each other, stopping just short of outright warfare. Two tribes will not live together unless the situation necessitates it. Nephilim clans live in isolation, which keeps them from achieving the great societies that humans have formed (with the exception of the Ratbane Clan). They were once common on the surface world, until the Empire began a campaign of extermination and deportation against them. Now, with the recent reconciliation between the two nations, nephilim have begun to return to the surface in force.
Nephilim are extremely nimble, and they excel at archery, lockpicking, and disarming traps, which makes them excellent adventurers. While not particularly adept at magic, every tribe does have its own shamans, who advise the chief. It is interesting to note that there have been no nephil archmagi worthy of mention, despite there being many shamans.
Known nephilim clans
- Glowfang Clan is a band of nephilim living near Mertis and are known to have more shamans and other magically skilled individuals than most other clans. There are some occasions during which the Clan has engaged in trading with outsiders of their own clan, namely with the Empire War Heroes. (The Clan has been in quasi-friendly terms with Kingdom of Avernum ever since the Empire-Avernum War.)
- Far-Fletch Clan is a clan of nephilim living west of Mertis, towards the Honeycomb. This Clan, as the name suggests, is especially renowned for their incredible skill with bows, sporting legendary marksmanship. Far-Fletch has been known to teach their skills to some outsiders who they have deemed to be trustworthy. (The Clan has been in quasi-friendly terms with Kingdom of Avernum ever since the Empire-Avernum War.)
- Fang Clan is a clan of nephilim who are known to cling to the Old Ways and traditions, and maintain hostile relations towards the other clans as well as humans. There are many accounts of Fang Clan nephilim inhabiting various locations. It is unclear whether these numerous reports are of a same Clan that nomadically searches a new location for settlements or if it is a splinter of a larger band of Fang Clan. (The Clan is in hostile terms with Kingdom of Avernum.)
- Ratbane Clan is a legendary clan due to its' large size during the earlier years, prior to the founding of Valorim's continent by the Empire. It is the only clan that has been confirmed to have been once a large society - a rare trait among the nephilim due to their tribal nature. The Ratbane Clan was nearly wiped out when the Empire found them. A small portion of the Clan managed to flee and still exists to this day. (The Clan's relations to the Empire are presumably hostile, however they have been known to have dealings with the Surface Explorers.)
- Split-Tail Clan was a band of nephilim living within a castle to the west of Formello, perched on the side of a river. Their nepharim cousins live in a cavernous fort in the northern parts of Eastern Gallery. The Split-Tail Clan's nephilim are known to have consorted with humans, one of such was appointed as their leader, and at least two ogres. Hawthorne's Assassins infiltrated their castle during the First Slith War and neutralized the opposition. (The Clan was in hostile terms with Kingdom of Avernum.)
- Bonewalker Clan was known especially for the necromancy that the Clan's shamans practised. They were preceded by the Split-Tail Clan and lived in the Nephilim Castle during the Empire-Avernum War, and were put down by the Empire War Heroes. (The Clan was in hostile relations with Kingdom of Avernum.)
- Blackscalp Clan.
- Longtail Clan was a pack of nephilim living east of Fort Monastery during the crisis of Retribution. They blocked passage of merchants, messengers and soldiers from the remote regions to the inner lands of Avernum. They held on to the Old Ways, stating that any nephilim who had joined Kingdom of Avernum or were in friendly terms with humans or slithzerikai were enemies of the Longtail Clan. They were reportedly dealt with by the Shade Killers on their way from Fort Monastery to Fort Draco area. (The Clan was in hostile relations with Kingdom of Avernum.)
Nephilim are natural hunters and carnivores, who hunt mainly rodents, but other wild animals as well, such as giant lizards or bats. While the nephilim are a warlike race, they rarely hunt large or ferocious creatures, using their prowess in battle almost exclusively for defense or in tribal conflicts. There are also occasions when a nephilim tribe has taken upon itself to raise crops (both mushrooms and wheat), most likely to compensate for the lack of wild game in the tribe's vicinity. Empire War Heroes reported that during a daring raid to a nepharim fort in the northeastern corner of Eastern Gallery they found long and thick rows of mushrooms inside the fort.
Contrary to a certain human hypothesis, the nephilim did not adopt clothing only upon their integration into human culture. Evidence of this is the nearly universal custom of clothing seen among the hostile tribes of nephilim in Exile, who are only fleetingly familiar with human culture, and have never adopted their ways.
On formal occasions, the nephilim cover their fur with cloaks sewn from a rough cloth spun from flax. Such clothing is not common and likely a luxury item. In everyday life, leather jerkins, tunics, shoulder cloths and kilts are customary for adults as well as adolescents.
The longbow has long been the cultural weapon of choice of the nephilim like the gigantic two-tined spear is for the slithzerikai. When ranged combat, their preferred style, is not practical, the more advanced tribes use melee weapons forged of iron or even steel, and the more primitive clans resort to weapons made of stone and bronze.
The nephilim are known to talk at least two to three languages. The first language is that of their own which is called Mmh'rrur, and contains a lot of phonetics that are difficult for other races to pronounce, namely the purring which describes a nephil's happiness. It contains spoken and written language, as can be observed in the Nephilim Castle to the west of Formello.
The second language is called Nephilian. Some scholars argue that it owes equally much to the original nephilim language Mmh'rrur, as well as the languages of humans, and that it has evolved because of the long campaign of extinction that the Empire waged on the nephilim race.
Finally, the nephilim are known to speak Imperial Standard, as observed with the nephilim who started to integrate to the Kingdom of Avernum ever since the Empire-Avernum War, and with nephil clans whom have had peaceful relations to the Kingdom.
See list of nephil names for further details.
The nephilim originated to the surface, living in strict tribal culture. The nephilim inhabited presumably all three continents -- Aizo, Pralgad and Valorim -- before the Empire's Extermination of Non-Humans was directed against them, owing to Emperor Ironclad V. After a violent and bloody war between the humans and nephilim, the former turned victorious, driving the feline tribes ahead of them to wildlands and remote areas where the Empire had no interest or resources to expand.
Finally, upon Emperor Hawthorne II's ascension to power, the Empire started to banish the nephilim to the underground through the use of portals. While the Empire kept banishing mainly humans to the Exile known today as Kingdom of Avernum, it is theorized that the Empire banished the nephilim through a different portal. The fabled nephil portal's location is, to this day, unknown.
Most nephilim in the caves are of the friendly variety, due to the similar plight of the Avernites. The few remaining hostile nephilim have been scattered, although there are occasionally reports of a brash chieftain bringing a hostile clan together, clutching on to the old ways. On the surface, there are more hostile nephilim, who cling to the idea of their own empire, like that of the Ratbane Clan, and harass and attack citizens of the Empire wherever they can find them.
It is noteworthy that nepharim, the larger cousins to nephilim, are known to be much more prone to violence, and tend to wage warfare against all those who are outside of their clan. As always, there are exceptions, one of them being a nephar who reportedly served in Freehold of Kyass during the First Slith War as a trainer to the arts of war.