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Sylph

Beings of the Wind

Written by Endrise

Excellent merchants, but often too ghastly to look at. Really, you look like you just died!

If you are looking to play a Sylph, visit the official D20PFSRD page.

Sylphs are humanoids touched by the Plane of Wind, half-elementals that are followed by the winds of fate wherever they go. Many consider them to be the merchants of the world, the travellers and explorers that go around wherever they seem fit, telling stories wherever they go

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

Sylphs are humanoid, although anorexic and slender than your regular human. Their bodies have pale skin with blue freckles and markings coating their forearms and lower legs, sometimes even looking to shift between light-blue and dark-blue colours. As for their skeletons, their bones are hollow like those of a bird, making them both light-weight and fragile at the same time. Their arms and legs are longer than that of a human, with fingers that tend to lack fingernails, yet end in claw-like tips that directly connect to the bone.

Biological Traits

Air & Gravity Affinity

Sylphs have an affinity with all things related to air from the day they are born, mainly due to the Elemental heritage. As such, all Sylphs have a slight breeze follow them around, making their hair and clothes move even in areas where everything is airtight. To this day, nobody knows why this is, seeing as no signs of magic are present to create such winds, though speculations indicate that this may be a connection to the plane of wind itself.

Additionally, Sylphs seem to be capable of manipulating the falling speed of objects, people and more. While they can't alter things such as weight or keep objects permanently stuck mid-air, they are capable of slowing them down so massively in a radius around them, that it can take days before they touch the ground.

Subspecies

Stormsoul

Stormsouls are a Sylphian subrace that puts aside the secretive nature of their kind for thunderous roars and storm in the blood. Their eyes are said to spark with lightning as their veins light up with the thunder running through it. To not even begin about their booming voices that can deafen entire crowds. Many Stormsouls live a life of constant battle, finding their homes in the heat of battle, making thunder and lightning with the clashing of both sword and shield.

Smokesoul

Smokesouls tend to be a lot duller in both emotion and colours, taking the secrecy of Sylphs to the logical extremes. Distinguishable by their darker hair, ash-coloured skin and raspy voice, many people see them as the perfect assassins or spies, mainly by their silent movement and ability to blend into the shadows. Many noble families hire a Smokesoul to take out rivals or spy on them to learn valuable information that the Sylph itself may occasionally use for personal gain.

Snowsoul

Snowsouls are a peculiar subrace of Sylphs that take the ghostly look of their kind and dial it up to eleven. With snow-white hair and ice-blue skin, they appear as haunting as ever before, seemingly being also cold to the touch. What makes them stand out is how they have turned their breeze into a freezing weapon, capable of lowering the temperature of most environments, if not bite into the flesh of others. As such, many often mistake them for Zipangu's Yuki-Onnas, due to similar abilities and appearances.

Additional Information

Facial characteristics

The best way to describe the appearance of a Sylph's face is that of a corpse: glassy eyes, pale skin, visible cheekbones, often with a diamond-shaped facial structure and having markings appear on the forehead similar to that of freckles or even tattoos in some occasions. Many tend to have blue eyes, ranging anywhere from ice blue to dark blue.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Despite their nature to travel across the globe, Sylphs are more commonly found across the continent of Tai, while also being present in most trade ports across the globe.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Male Names: Akaash, Eydan, Hanuun, Siival, Vasaam.
Female Names: Inam, Keeya, Lissi, Nava, Radaya, Tena.

Codenames

Most Sylphs get a codename or nickname that they are referred to, things such as Echo, Lightfoot or Song that come from some quirk of theirs. They often use these names to keep their identities hidden, preferring to hide behind a nickname than their actual name.

Major Organizations

Foghorns

The Foghorns were a group of Sylphian pirates that became infamous amongst the seas of Tai, known for their tactics of hiding in the mist on the sea and causing dread amongst sailors through the usage of foghorns blaring across the ocean like the roars of a beast. As men and women abandoned ship, they looted the remains in peace, if not sink it to appear as if the monster took it to the bottom of the sea.

Trade Winds

The Trade Winds Guild, established by the merchant Tressa, is one of Faramunds largest groups when it comes to sea routes and trades amongst the kingdom. Run by Nicholas Sauter, for the past three-quarters of a millennium they have established some of the strongest bonds with fellow nations on the Crescent Continent and beyond, gathering a large sum of power over the trade port to the point they almost run the place.

Common Dress Code

Sylphs prefer clothes that are quite loose on their body, mainly to hide their anorexic nature from the world. Things like ponchos and cloaks, scarfs and other attire are traditional clothes worn by Syphian societies, preferably when they are travelling.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Eternal Secret

Every Sylph has one secret only they know about, at least in their social groups. From something small like a family recipe to the answers of the universe, they take this secret with them until their death bed, where they pass it over to someone they trust. Sometimes this secret ends up being something they discovered in their personal lives, while others share a secret passed down for generations.

Tea for Thought

It's almost universal for Sylphs to have conversations with other people while having a cup of tea. Either relatives, clients or any other people, many will order a drink of sorts while doing so, either preparing it themselves or ordering it from the bar. Some say this has been a tradition amongst Sylphs to loosen up the tongues of customers by making them feel warm and comfy, trying to form connections with them to make the tension between the two parties loosen.

Navigation by Weather

Whenever a Sylph tends to get lost on their travels, they use the winds to navigate their surroundings. Some say that their close connection to the elemental plane of wind makes them see where the wind came from or where it is heading, others consider them to be just excellent climatologists and know from weather patterns where they are heading.

Historical Figures

Tressa

Tressa was known as a legendary saleswoman, having been born and raised in Faramund. Founder of the Trade Winds guild, she almost single-handedly established numerous trade routes with fellow nations, selling wares from across the globe with humongous profit. Thanks to her, she kept the potential economic crash of the Great Sangfroid War at bay in Coniunctis, leaving behind a guild that to this day still keeps Faramund's ports running.

Echo

There's little knowledge to who Echo is, not even their gender or name. What few records exist of them tell of a spy and assassin with a history of countless espionages, robberies and assassinations, being responsible for spilling information regarding top-secret military plans and murdering several upper-class citizens. Their legacy has ended up going into legendary statuses, aspiring many other assassins to be as stealthy as they. Many rumours even tell about Echo hiding the ultimate treasure on Hua Xia that can only be found by themselves.

Common Myths and Legends

  • Sylphs are incorporeal: Mainly due to their ghostly appearance, but often disproven by enough of them smashed against walls.
  • A sylph's mood affects the weather: while it's true that their kind can alter the climate in numerous ways, them being angry or having a cold aren't signs for storms or blizzards approaching.
  • Sylphs don't need to breathe air: a half-truth, as some Sylphs seem to have gained the ability to survive in a vacuum, making breathing not required for them.
  • Sylphs can fly: again, a half-truth, as some are capable of levitation through their elemental ancestry. They can slow their falls, however.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Despite the introvert nature of Sylphs, when they open up to others, their social interaction is second to none. Combine that with their wanderlust to big cities and ports, and at least one person in every town has heard of them going around selling wares on the local marketplace. While some people still find their ghastly appearances tough to look at, many have accepted them as fellow men and women amongst societies.

Sylphs do have some affinity with other half-elementals such as Ifrits and Undines but do have small rivalries with their elemental counterpart, the Oreads. Nobody knows why, but some suggest it could be due to different ideologies or cultural heritage.

Homebrew Rules

Snowsoul Alternative Stats
Spell-like ability: Biting Wind
Affinity: Snowsoul Sylphs gain an affinity with the Sorcerer Undead Bloodline and the Ice domain.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Origin/Ancestry
Plane of Wind
Lifespan
120 years
Average Height
5'-6'4"
1.52m-1.93m
Average Weight
100-180 lbs.
45 kg-81 kg
Average Physique
Slender, frail
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Blueish tints, markings on the arms and legs
Related Ethnicities

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Cover image: WorldAnvilCover: Generic Species by Vertixico

Comments

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12 Jan, 2019 20:21

This is a pretty cool article! I like reading about species and their outlooks on the world and think that you've made a solid effort at making it clear what these are and how they function.   Are the foghorns still extant? The wording is somewhat nebulous. Also with the rumors, how many Sylph are known to be of a thieving nature? Seems like the various rumors combine to make a really solid rogue. Able to get out of any tight spot and never be seen.   Thanks for sharing this neat article! :D

12 Jan, 2019 21:05

Well, nobody knows where the Foghorns went, but some presume the title still is held by a few pirates. As for the other, they were commonly known to be also spies of kingdoms, since many were so precise with their sneaking one couldn't hear one in front of them!

13 Jan, 2019 00:59

this is a very interesting article. a species of elemental type and mysterious in nature would leave a reader, myself included, intrigued by the nature of such creatures. Question though, You say they tend to live in mostly human societies, and that a breeze follows them. Do people know who is a Slyph and who isn't? Wouldn't the breeze give their presence away?

14 Jan, 2019 07:47

While the breeze may follow them, it's only really noticeable on themselves: hair waving in a non-existent wind, clothes moving around gently, at worse times this can push tiny objects around or blow a paper of the desk. Appearance-wise it may be a bit harder to hide it with the markings or the glassy eyes, but enough masking can make them look human.

14 Jan, 2019 02:20

Very much like the myths about them rather than by them. Instant embedding of the race by having a random peasant quote some. Also the Foghorns , everyone who lives near a harbor immediately knows how they sound.   Question though: How long does a "diluted" Sylph (by being partly or almost human, consider herself a sylph?   Do all sylphs stalk? Or are thundersouls an exception due to their extrovert natutre.

14 Jan, 2019 07:59

Thanks! I thought that the best way to do their myths was a short list of what is known about them, instead of what they believe. As for the Foghorns yeah,you'd know if you're screwed if they come blowing their horns!   Since the original Sylphs have been around for nearly 3.000 years, at best a modern Sylph tends to be recognised by two traits: their aesthetic breeze and the wind markings on their body. Beyond that the Sylph can technically have genetic similarities to that of Elves, Dwarves, what not!   As for the stalking, most do, but some tend to be also history addicts and merchantry masters. They're sort off an unspoken web of knowledge that gathers information across the globe, often eavesdropping and learning about people by studying them from afar. This can often help many Sylph merchants to find good customer areas or a spy to really get juicy secrets out!

14 Jan, 2019 09:36

I like the RPG-format of the article, as well as the creatures themselves. I also like the use of Hindu names (e.g. "Akaash" meaning "Sky") to add to the Sylph culture. Are there variations of Sylphs? If Sylphs are beings of the wind, are there specific species for tornadoes, cyclones etc? Overall, good worldbuilding.

14 Jan, 2019 10:40

Thanks, but honestly the names are taken right from the Pathfinder site, too lazy for names :p   As for the tornado stuff, Sylphs embody almost any form of wind and storm already, from the smallest breeze to the loudest hurricane at their worst. It's just that those who embody storms tend to be be almost pure-blood Sylphs, which is rare in this modern age.