Volrishtads Species in Cairne | World Anvil


Dancers in the Shadows

The Volrishtad are unique in that, while their people predate the Blight, they were remade by it. From the nomadic people that roamed the Eastern lands in the meadows and grasslands that once surrounded the Gaul Do Shah forests, the Void energies that permeate Cairne intertwined with their traditional beliefs and culture as much as it intertwined with their physiology. These people are incredibly proud and fierce defenders of their kind. Never staying in one place for too long, they are a hard folk to pin down - and even harder to keep up with. Their way of life is one on the edge, both of the Void and the knife.

Basic Information


The Volrishtad are, in essence, Void-touched humans. While they have originated from humans, they have evolved to become a distinct species in their own right.
They remain very human-like in their form, but the influence of the Void has given them solid obsidian-colored eyes and pallid skin. Their blood runs purple, which features most notably in their lips and nails that tend towards being purple in color. Dark hair is the most common among them, from darker shades of blue and purple to black. Naturally white hair that isn't the result of aging and lighter blues and purples are much rarer but not unheard of.

Dietary Needs and Habits

All cultures in Cairne rely on preserved foods when fresh food is not readily available, but the Volrishtad, as a nomadic culture, have a much heavier reliance on foods that can keep and anything that can be foraged or hunted on their routes. Dried lentils and chickpeas, cornmeal, rice, wheat, smoke cured meats and sausages, whole sour cabbage, waxed cheese wheels, dried herbs, and fruit preserves are all common features in a Volrishtad caravan. Their meat is primarily wild rabbit, specifically the Outlands Cottontail, and horse meat, slaughtering horses in the herds they travel with for food when their value as a work animal is low.
After spending a decade at the location they’ve dubbed Sasha’s Folly in the early days of the Blight, mushrooms and lichens have become incorporated into their regular diet but not to the degree they relied upon back then. Certain species of lichen are dehydrated and used as a spice or flavor enhancer, and mushrooms are often cooked and incorporated into various dishes when found.
The Volrishtad have a particular fondness for spicy foods. Paprika, garlic, and other spices fill their spice cabinets and feature prominently in many of their dishes. Common dishes include rabbit stew, fried cornbread, lentil soup, boiled cornmeal served as a hot porridge, schnitzel, stuffed cabbage leaves, and flatbreads generally. Potatoes were once more common in Volrishrad dishes, but with the Outlands now much hotter on average due to the Blight’s destruction of the forests, they are much more difficult to keep for months in their caravans like they once could. A highly traditional Volrishrad dish and cultural favorite is stuffed bell peppers. These are only made when fresh bell peppers are available and are a common sight on holidays and special occasions.
The Volrishtad are primarily tea drinkers. Because traditional tea leaves are considered a luxury crop post-Blight, the teas they drink regularly are herbal and mushroom teas. Wine is a special luxury that the Vol splurge on for weddings and other significant occasions.
One drink of theirs developed after the Blight has perplexed everyone in Cairne who’s tried it. Called Void Tonic, this is a drink the Volrishrad developed on the back of their belief that the Void is a cleansing force to give to their sick. They let finely-chopped ginger and sugar ferment in water for a week to give it natural carbonation. Then, they use a special method they developed of processing vegetation and fungi found at the edge of the Blight to extract the Void energy from it in a liquid form. This is then added to the carbonated water. The amount of Void energy present is nowhere near dangerous and can be safely drank by anyone in Cairne. The completed tonic is a somewhat transparent inky-black liquid that adopts a deep purple color when light is shone through it. When drank, people describe it as tasting like nothing. Not the absence of flavor, because the brain registers it as having a flavor, but that flavor is… nothing. Needless to say, this isn’t a drink that people drink for pleasure, as its flavor is too unsettling.

Additional Information

Social Structure

The Volrishtad are less of a singular nation and more a confederacy of seven different clans. Each clan is led by two rulers - one man and one woman - as a representation of the balance that is the fulcrum of the universe. They are chosen by a rite of rulership on the edge of the Void, wherein they earn the titles of clan Matriarch and Patriarch. Second-in-command underneath them but no less respected and important - probably even more so - is the clan historian or seanchai, a position originating from their ancient roots and from which their islander cousins derived their current name. This is a position that one does not earn but is chosen for them at a young age. It takes decades of training before one can assume the position of seanchai, as theirs is a strong oral tradition, and the entire history of the clan is passed down orally from the current seanchai to the next-in-line. They are powerful storytellers who act as advisors to the Matriarch and Patriarch, drawing wisdom and guidance from their people’s history.
The Volrishtad are doggedly proud of their individual clan, but at the end of the day, they hold allegiance to none but the Volrishtad people and their way of life. While each clan has a unique “personality” to it that, in certain cases, have given them a unique niche in Volrishtad society, they all share that same foundational Volrishtad core that defines them as a people. This has led to a strong degree of cooperation between the clans.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

The Volrishtad's Void-touched nature has given them a number of unique abilities, chief among them is the ability to manipulate shadow. They can create clothing, light armor, tools, and simple weapons out of shadow at-will. This has led to a unique taste in adornments, as the Volrishtad can create what they wear from ambient Void energy rather than craft it from material goods. This allows them a certain transient flux in their appearance, as their accoutrements can shift and change on a whim.
Darkness is also no longer a hindrance to them but in many ways is a utility. They can see in the dark up to 90 feet away, though only in shades of gray, not color. They can also travel between two shadows as a form of teleportation.
Whether they're wearing or carrying anything crafted out of shadow or not, wisps of shadow always trail off of them as they move due to the nature of their transformation.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

A Volrishtad's full name is comprised of their given name, their father's patrilineal surname, their mother's matrilineal surname, and their clan. An example of a Volrishtad name might be "Django, son of Demeter, son of Badi, of the Nichtyne clan." When dealing with Outsiders and needing to give a name, however, a Volrishtad will use their given name and the surname of their same-gender parent. From the previous example, Django would identify himself as "Django Demeter."
The Volrishtad also believe that names have power; hiding your true name hides you from powers that can bring a person bad luck. Thus, they also have a second name given to them by their clan based on some notable event or characteristic of theirs from when they were a child. Names that may seem derogatory to Outsiders are considered endearing to the Volrishtad and are mainly used only in the company of others of their own kind.

Major Organizations

Volrishtad society is divided into seven major clans. They are:  

Culture and Cultural Heritage


  The Volrishtad believe in a universal balance; there is a place for everything, and everything must be in its place. Otherwise, everything is thrown off-balance, and this is an invitation for bad luck, illnesses, or even death. To them, this is a universal constant, a law to which everything must abide, including the gods themselves. Things kept in their proper place, untainted by anything not natural to it, is considered pure; anything besides risks it becoming impure.
Things that they consider impure can be generalized as such: anything from the ground, anything from outside, anything from the lower body, bodily fluids of any kind and the parts that emit them, and places associated with illness or death. To maintain purity, the Volrishtad have many rules by which they live their lives, including elaborate cleaning rituals for objects like clothing and dishes, making sure that undergarments are washed separately from upper body garments and that dishes used for eating are washed in the cleanest water before the pots and pans, beginning with cups.
Since their transformation, many of these rituals have become less of a concern. Once they realized that they could manipulate shadow to form simple tools and clothing, maintaining their standards became a lot easier. Pots, dishes, and any other implements where cleanliness would be a concern could be created when a person had a need for it and dismissed when finished with it, the uncleanliness evaporating in a wisp of shadow along with the item. Anything intended to remain pure that fell to the ground could be created anew just as easily. These rituals still remain in cultural memory, however, as they expect people who aren’t crafting objects out of shadow in this way — or otherwise can’t — to maintain their cleanliness standards in a way that is satisfactory to them.
They keep their sick and dying isolated in separate caravans, not wanting to invite impurity by being around it. Before the Blight, they preferred to burn the caravan of their deceased rather than clean it out for future use, as it then became associated with death and was bad luck to continue using it. Nowadays, wood is exceedingly rare, and resources are too precious to waste to continue on with this practice. Caravans that once housed the sick and dying are now partially taken apart and given a very thorough clean before putting it into use again. They still, however, cremate the bodies of their deceased as they’ve always done.
To the Volrishtad, being associated with anything they consider impure runs a risk of spiritual contamination. Even such practices as saying the name of something impure is itself an impure act. Thus, they are deeply distrustful of Outsiders because they can’t vouch that they are living a pure lifestyle, especially when outsider cultures are so different from their own. Testing every outsider cultural practice for evidence of its purity would be a futile effort, so as a general rule, the Volrishtad are very careful to prevent Outsider cultures from influencing their own. Because of this risk of becoming impure by association, they may exile certain individuals from a family, as one impure individual can contaminate everyone. This has served to make them a deeply isolationist people.
The worst act that any Volrishtad can perform is “wishing bad” of a person, even if someone didn’t actually wish for something bad to happen to that person. This is simply defined as thinking spiteful thoughts of a person. Doing so actually invites bad luck on the target of a person’s thoughts, to where a Volrishtad becoming ill out-of-nowhere might believe that someone was wishing ill of them. Because of its ability to generate spiteful thoughts, jealousy is considered one of the worst character traits an individual can have.
Balance and the Blight
  The Volrishtad have developed a comparatively unique view on the Blight. What they learned about the events surrounding the Blight was that Sovereign Daimus III harbored many spiteful thoughts against the Seanachaisians that led him to his actions against them. Their former goddess, Volri, had done much the same against the other races, feeling that by removing some of the players on the field, the people who chose her would have room to ascend. It was because of her that Sasha Vrend was even involved at all, not only associating with and partaking of these impure acts but actively encouraging it in Daimus! To them, there was no longer any mystery as to why the Blight happened. The world of Cairne as a whole was so impure, so out-of-balance that of course such terrible luck would sweep across the land! They never again spoke the name Vrend because of the impure taint associated with it, and they ended all association with Volri because of her actions. After all, associating with one impure individual can spiritually contaminate everyone, and the gods themselves were not above these grand universal laws.
As time wore on, the Volrishtad began to view the Blight not as a malign wave of destruction but as a cleansing force sent down by the universe to redress the imbalance in Cairne, righting wrongs and eliminating all that was impure. Their Void-touched appearances became a cultural point of pride — a sign of cleansing, and their newfound ability to shape shadows was a reward for upholding the universal law and a means for them to maintain their purity more easily. In their eyes, they are the Void’s chosen people.
The Volrishtad believe, as they always have, that failure to maintain purity invites bad luck, and in a post-Blight Cairne, this manifested as void creatures coming to wreak havoc. To them, this is an unfortunate but necessary evil, as their sole defining purpose is to eliminate impurities where they exist to return Cairne to a state of balance. Even the Void-reanimated dead follow this rule to a certain extent; death itself is impure, and failure to burn the bodies of the dead means that the energies of the Void will enter their corpses to purge any remaining contamination. Those who live a pure life won’t have to worry about dealing with such creatures, as these people are not what the Blight was brought down on the world for and are themselves actively helping to return Cairne to a balanced state. As long as this imbalance exists, the Blight will stick around, and the sooner that the people of Cairne can right their lives, the sooner it will leave.
Truthfully, though, they don’t have much faith in Outsiders to do this. They believe that many of them are still engaging in the same hubris that put Cairne in this position to begin with. It’s not for lack of informing them of the ways of the world, either. Outsiders just don’t get it - or worse, they don’t want to listen.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

The seven Volrishtad clans converge annually for a week-long festival on the site of the initial Volrishtad encampment on the western edge of the Ephemeral Sea known as Sasha’s Folly. The primary draw at the heart of this gathering is the horse fair. This is an important tradition for every Volrishtad clan, as it presents an opportunity not only to buy, sell, and trade horses but also to meet with family and friends, share stories and songs around a campfire, and celebrate their Volrishtad heritage and culture, feeling safe to do so in the company of others of their own kind. This also serves as a great matchmaking opportunity for youths of marrying age, giving 16-year-olds the chance to mingle and find a suitable spouse. While the festivities are going on, the clan leaders and some notable invited elders meet and discuss matters that affect the Volrishtad as a whole, the Outlands, and any crucial interactions with outsider settlements that need to be addressed.
The Volrishtad, in their belief system, consider illness and death to be impure and don’t want to be in its vicinity. In the times before the Blight, this would involve the burning of the deceased’s caravan, but wood is too scarce and resources too precious to waste in general that they now just give everything a very, very thorough cleaning. Burning still features in their funerary customs, however. The body of the deceased undergoes a cremation ritual, wherein the Volrishtad offer their spirit up to join their ancestors, so they may continue to guide them and impart their wisdom gained over a life well-lived. They then return their ashes to the Void, scattering them into the Blight and thanking the Void for the blessings imparted onto their once-living flesh.


Unbeknownst to many, the Volrishtad originate from the Oileanda just as the Seanachaisians did. When the fae offered them promises of musical talent that surpassed mortal limits, many of them felt that accepting their offer was ill-advised, leading to a sharp divide among the ancient people. They wanted their people to have nothing to do with the fae, and getting involved with them was an invitation for bad luck.
They were deeply disturbed watching their people who had accepted the fae’s bargains begin to change. They were becoming more like them by the day, leaving a permanent stain on their people. As the Isles of Seanachai began to transform along with them and even children being born to parents who never made bargains bore the fae’s influence, they felt as if they no longer had a place on the Isles as Oileanda, strangers in their own homeland. If they wished to remain free of the fae’s influence, they knew they had to leave.
Escaping what they viewed as an undesirable fate, the remaining untouched Oileanda sailed east across the Ephemeral Sea. With no permanent place to call home, they became a nomadic people traveling in bowtop caravans between the Gaul Do Shah forests and eastern human settlements, seeking comfort and guidance in the goddess of travelers, Volri, and leaving their old god Bodi behind. No longer comfortable calling themselves Oileanda, they had begun to call themselves the People of Volri. In their desire to remain true to who they were as a people, they became hyper-vigilant about letting any outside influences affect their people, lest they succumb to a fate like their islander cousins. There’s a place for everything, and everything must be in its place. Outsiders had no place among the People of Volri, and any stain left by them had the potential to infect the others.

The Blight

  The People of Volri’s beliefs, culture, and way of life solidified over 1500 years in relative isolation from the outside world. They were never abreast of worldly politics, so when the Blight struck the Isles of Seanachai, they were completely blindsided.
Their high priestess, Sasha Vrend, directed her people to the western edge of the Ephemeral Sea away from their ancestral travel routes under the providence of their goddess, Volri. On the ill-fated Black Night spoken of only in whispers by their culture, the stars they had once used for guidance were obliterated from the sky. Waves of fell energy engulfed the land, leaving destruction in its wake as it pushed towards them. They tried to outrun the Blight, always remaining at the edge of the enveloping horrors that pursued them, but many perished in the cross-fire.
When the expansion of the Blight settled, giving them a moment to catch their breath, the remaining People of Volri were left broken and lost. Desperate for answers, they turned to Volri for guidance but were only met with silence. Even Sasha Vrend had disappeared in a wisp of shadow when the Blight fell. They supposed that whatever happened to Volri, she must have taken Sasha with her.
With so many dead and dying in the days following, community elders did everything in their power to slow — and hopefully stop — the damage done to their people. They circled their caravans and hunkered down, fortifying as best they could against the nightmares of the Blight. Fearing the horrors that awaited them would be worse the further out they traveled, they decided to go no further. After all, they had received word from their goddess through Sasha Vrend to remain there, so it was there they remained. The sun was not visible through the miasma of the void, and death lurked beyond their camp in the guise of strange creatures that killed with a touch and devoured those left behind. Many believed they were the only people left, and the end of the world was upon them.
Still, they fought hard for their own survival, changing and adapting their tactics where necessary and learning to use the void to their advantage. As their initial supplies ran out, they turned to the strange new life around them in the Blighted lands for sustenance, using their skills to purify whatever they could find. While this was enough to make it edible, they couldn’t remove the taint of the void entirely. After a decade of relying on this for sustenance, it irrevocably altered their physiology, catalyzed by the Void-saturated air they lived in; the very essence of the void itself intertwined with their being and became one with them. They discovered an affinity for the shadows that made up their world, and what’s more, they were able to manipulate them to form usable tools, clothes, and even weapons. This blessing allowed them to not only survive but thrive. For the first time, they felt as though they could fight the Blight-born horrors on equal footing.
As the People of Volri found their way, they determined it was time to expand out and discover this new world the Blight had left for them. Very slowly, they pushed beyond the borders of their encampment on foot, exploring the areas around them. Forty years had passed since the Black Night when the first expeditions found their way out of the direct path of the Blight, and they discovered that they weren’t, in fact, the only people left.
From there, they made a deliberate push to find out what happened on the Black Night, particularly with Volri and Sasha Vrend. What they discovered horrified them. When the expeditions returned, the People of Volri did what only felt right: they cast the name Vrend from their lips, abandoned their old goddess just as she had abandoned them, and adopted the mantle of Volrishtad, which in their native dialect translates to “The Orphans of Volri”. They moved forward that day stronger and more determined than ever, recommitting themselves to their ways of life with fresh vigor. No longer content to sit idly, they returned to their ancestral travel routes in what became the Eastern Wastes and Blighted Lands, resuming their nomadic ways of life.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Both before the Blight and after, the Volrishtad’s beliefs and way of life were never popular. Most people, when dealing with them, find them cool and distant. When pressed for the reason why they act this way around non-Volrishtad, they never hesitate to give an honest answer: the way that Outsiders live their lives is rife with spiritual contamination and an invitation for bad luck, and by the Volrishtad being in close proximity to that, they run the risk of becoming so themselves. Being told this never sits well with anyone, but the Volrishtad couldn’t care less. They’d certainly hope that someone would tell them this if they were stumbling, but beyond that, the Volrishtad don’t care to deal with Outsiders any more than they have to. Besides, the majority of Outsiders disparage their way of life as being inferior to their own. Why should they give a passing thought to people who don’t respect them?
This treatment has only been magnified in this post-Blight era. When the Volrishtad re-emerged in the world, transformed after 10 years spent in proximity to the Void, people treated them like freaks. To this, they can only scoff. Their appearances are a blessing from the Void, outward proof that they’re living their lives in a manner which upholds the universal balance. This is something that Outsiders should strive for! They would do well to follow their example.
To the pleasant surprise of the Volrishtad, many have.
Beneath the surface, many Volrishtad practices associated with their belief system are ones that keep the destruction and contamination of the Blight at-bay and prevent cross-contamination of illness in a world absent divine healing, where death is very, very final. For the residents of the Outlands, these practices are tools of survival. For people who don’t have access to the resources and education that societies like the Becht have, they’re largely in the dark of practices they’ve developed by means of scientific rigor to increase their chances of survival. Volrishtad folk beliefs, however, are accessible, available, and appear to have a high survival rate for practices they could pretty easily implement. They welcome their wisdom whenever their caravans roll around, and for the Volrishtad in turn, their eagerness to learn and dedicate themselves to what the Volrishtad view as a pure way of living has made a positive impression on them. With an increased confidence that the various Outlands settlements are living more pure lives, that Volrishtad distrust of outsiders is chipping away for them in particular, at least enough to open regular and healthy trade relations.
The Volrishtad have developed a particularly special relationship to the Ventrytes in this. They found that the freedom-loving Ventrytes are culturally very similar to them. While they still implement some degree of caution lest one impure cultural practice contaminates their lives unchecked, they do feel more comfortable letting their guard down in the company of Ventrytes, believing them more likely to be living pure lives than any of Cairne’s people. Trade between them is robust, and they’ve been known to occasionally partake in jovial displays of song and dance. These moments, when they occur, can spontaneously spark a days-long festival upon a Volrishtad caravan visiting a Ventryte outpost.
Perhaps even more curious is how the existing circumstances in post-Blight Cairne have affected their relationship with the Seanachaisians. Cultural memory runs deep, and before the Blight, the Volrishtad would scarcely have anything to do with the Seanachaisians, seeing as their evolution as a people was the very impetus for their system of beliefs and isolationist tendencies. Learning of the events surrounding the Blight made them take pity on their islander cousins. They were also in equal measure impressed and proud when they learned of the Seanachaisian’s staunch refusal to amalgamate with cultures partaking in impure practices. They reasoned that whenever the universe sent down the cleansing force that is the Blight instead of what Sovereign Daimus III originally intended to unleash on the Isles of Seanachai, they, too, were also tested in the black fires of the Void. Though the Seanachaisians did not pass with flying colors, the fact that they survived through it all and now bear the scars of the Blight on their bodies signals to the Volrishtad that they’re heading down the right path. They do originate from the same people, after all, so surely they must have held onto some of the values that once united them. Though the relationship between the Volrishtad and Seanachaisians is still tenuous at best, the two races have finally begun repairing ties that were severed so many years ago, reuniting their people once again.

  • Speed 35ft.
  • Height 4'8" + 2d6"
  • Weight 80 lb. x 1d6 lb.
  • DEX +3
  • INT -1 
  • CHA -1
  • Shadow Manipulation You can create simple weapons, tools, and light armor out of shadow at will.
  • Void Step Once per rest, you can travel from one shadow to another within 90’.
  • Darkvision You can see in darkness up to 90' as if the darkness were dim light.
  • Languages Common, Volrishtad
  • Proficiency You gain proficiency in one skill or tool of your choice.
  • Feat You gain 1 feat of your choice.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Genetic Descendants
Scientific Name
Homo noxumbra
Oileanda (Originally), People of Volri
Geographic Distribution
Related Organizations


Please Login in order to comment!