Scaly Folk Species in Tairos | World Anvil

Scaly Folk

The old texts I found in the elven chantry say the scaly folk used to know the stars, the gates and the myriad of mysteries underpinning our very reality. I must admit that doesn't reconcile very well with the hulking, belligerent savages that would sooner strip every fiber of flesh from your bones than have an intelligent conversation about celestial bodies or extraplanar travel. I think the elves got that one very very wrong or it's some kind of joke that I bet they think is hilarious. Elves...
— Wexil Loame, Grand Astromancer of the College of Magic
Most rely on the written memory of the Elves to tell the story of ancient Tairos. However, there are older sources one can turn to, should they be willing to risk life and limb for it. When the land was young and dragons still reigned there was a place where science, reason and wisdom stood in defiance to the tribal mysticism that dominated. That place was the island of Tairuk and those people were what is known today as the Scaly Folk.
This wasn't the name they chose, no one alive today knows what they called themselves. That, like much of their history is lost to the deluge of years between then and now. What is known is their temples once dotted all of the Tairuk Island Chain and the many castes of their species went about perfecting their strange pursuits. They studied they sky, The Gates, the nature of divinity and the workings of reality. Some wild rumors go so far as to say they could harness magic with their force of will alone and that they too were visitors from beyond the gates rather than natives of Tairos. Very little of their way of life is known for certain. Though, we do know a great deal about their death thanks to the records of Skyrir
During the time of the Golden God countless civilizations were sacrificed for his grand plan of uniting Tairos under his tyrannical promise of peace and unity. The kingdoms of the Scaly Folk were one of many turned to cinders and ash. Some scholars who are aware of both the history of the Golden God and the Scaly Folk believe these creatures were chosen for extinction not because of the martial threat they represented but because they knew whom the Golden God mastered divinity from and how deeply he was failing to understand the lessons taught. If such is true than the great civilization of the Scaly Folk came to an end not for war or enlightenment but jealous spite. Because Azuras, the Golden God, could not tolerate the notion that he was wrong. That he misunderstood. That he disappointed his old friend.
Despite the scouring of the Tairuk Islands by Azuras and his allies mistakes were made and many of the Scaly Folk escaped to the deep jungles of Tairuk Pebbles or to sanctuaries hidden along the southern stretch of the Big Ruk River. Bereft of their greatest leaders, access to their gates and having lost almost all of their castes save for two the Scaly Folk survived but only as a shadow of their former selves. The immense, dull and irritable Labor Caste managed to survive through simple yet successful means such as escape into the muddy depths of island interiors or hibernating for decades at a time. These turtle-like beings were never bred for wit and without higher castes to direct them they slipped further into a level barely above that of beasts. Meanwhile, the frog-like Chamberlain Caste were ignored during the Golden God's pogrom. These skittish, fragile and demure servants did however possess a great deal of the knowledge of their masters for it was their job to carry messages, inscribe ruins and handle trivial tasks thought beneath the truly enlightened leaders. Their number gathered in the jungles while the rest of their world fell and only once the fighting was over did they creep back into the sunlight.
Today, few outside of the Tairuk Islanders are even aware the Scaly Folk once existed. And, even the tribes of Tairuk and pirates of Far Harbor only speak of them as myths lurking in the furthest reaches of the jungle, places that offer little opportunity other than the promise of certain death. Yet, they exist. The Chamberlains having woke and rallied the Laborers managed to bring some life back to a small handful of the temple-cities not annihilated by Azuras' wrath. This is not the good fortune many might see it as though. After thousands of years without their master castes their civilization devolved into one of deep xenophobia, superstition, and violence. It is only their small numbers and distrust of the outside world that has kept them sweeping away the human tribes and people of Far Harbor. Once, the Scaly Folk represented a light in this world unlike any other. They championed logic, understanding and the secrets of the mind. Now, they've become little more than just another of the hungers that lurk in the deep jungles of Tairuk.

Basic Information


Two Castes make up the current Scaly Folk now. The frog-like "Darts" and the turtle-like "Gnaws". Both are four limbed bipedal species. The Gnaws are known for their thick shell, powerful body and exceptionally dangerous beaks. The Darts are much more fragile and small with soft bones, slicker skin and large eyes all of which aid them in tasks of agility, perception and stealth.

Genetics and Reproduction

Sexual reproduction and oviparous gestation

Growth Rate & Stages

The Darts grow in gel-like eggs laid in the water and emerge as tadpoles which very quickly move through growth cycles till adulthood. The Gnaws are born from hard shelled eggs laid in the muddy earth along rivers or in the swamps. Once hatched they grow at a much slower rate than their Dart kin.

Ecology and Habitats

Humid jungles are their favored environments as well as the cool old stone of the lost temples they dwell in.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Darts are prone to near constant "snacking" throughout the day to support their rather breakneck metabolisms. These quick meals are generally pouches full of insects, small lizards and animal flesh cut into small bite-sized fragments. Gnaws on the other hand often only eat a handful of times a month and in exceptionally large quantities. A typical meal for a Gnaw will be several animals or humanoids, eaten whole if possible or torn into manageable chunks by their beaks.

Biological Cycle

Both species are capable of hibernation though only the Gnaws do it with regularity, sleeping entire seasons away unless awoken by the Darts. As Darts age their body colors become more and more faded. Some of the oldest Darts are as white as bleached bone. Gnaws continue to grow in size throughout their life. Their upper size limit is only limited by the ever increasing amount of food they need to sustain it. Their bodies also become increasingly more resilient to damage and disease over the years. Natural aging doesn't seem to physically hinder them though the accumulation of scars and old injuries do compound.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Darts have assumed something of the role once held by the old master caste. They don't have a true understanding of that old knowledge though and their interpretations of it often lead to ill-informed conclusions, obsessions and a belief in "signs of from the stars". The Gnaws have become the Labor and the Warrior caste now. They do not take much part in the day-to-day workings of their society and can often be found just basking in the sun or buried in the mud when not involved in a task. Both species are perfectly content with this structure and would not be suited for any other.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Tairuk Island and Tairuk Pebbles

Average Intelligence

Darts tend toward the more intelligent side of the spectrum though their belief in superstition, obsession with the stars and dislike of foreign intelligent species is somewhat intellectually crippling. The Gnaws are much more simple creatures with far more primitive minds though no less sapient than their Dart kin. However, the Gnaws are exceptionally territorial, very quick to lash out at sources of irritation and generally consider everything as a potential source of food.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Both castes have excellent senses of smell and taste

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Darts and Gnaws are generally healthy in this regard. The Gnaws typically have a number of parasitic species living in their gastrointestinal track. While they help break down the bone matter Gnaws are known for consuming they do contribute to the irritability and stagnant smell of the creatures.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Darts favor the names of tools used during the old days before the fall of the master caste. They see themselves as the caretakers of this land and wait patiently for the return of the master castes who may have been off world during the time of Azuras' pogrom. Names like Book, Shovel, Mortar, Pestle, Bowl, Chalice, Knife and Slab are typical examples. The Gnaws are named by the Darts who generally choose words from the old masters that refer to violence and destruction. This means names like Menace, Wrecker, Devastator, Hammer, Meteor, Inferno, Typhoon, and Frenzy are common.
Certain honorifics are often attached to names. This helps to distinguish one otherwise common name from another. This means their may be a Dart named Exulted Book and another named Cunning Book or Book of the Tree Tops. The Gnaws observe the same tradition which results in named like Victorious Hammer, Relentless Meteor, and Enduring Frenzy.

Major Organizations

Among the Darts those with the greatest understanding of the knowledge of the master caste are seen as leaders. They peer into the heavens to read the alignment of the stars and believe them to be messages or signs from their masters. They are called Stargazers and it is these loosely aligned soothsayers and prophets that represent the leadership of the Scaly Folk.

Beauty Ideals

Scaly Folk do not have a place their reptilian minds for such concepts. They are driven by one of two things at any given time. Biological urges or the perceived portent offered by the stars of the night sky. Breeding is only done to satisfy either a biological need or because the stars have ordained it to be so.

Courtship Ideals

Courtship is another alien concept to them. The closest to courtship they have is the mass gatherings called by the Stargazers who have foreseen an auspicious sign in the sky that speaks to an ideal time to produce strong offspring. Mating is duty in this case and nothing more.

Average Technological Level

The civilization of old was believed to have mastered the gates, psionistry and science. Today, the Scaly Folk are on par with the advances of tribal humans on Big Ruk. Even the crude industry of Orcs and Goblins surpasses their mastery of stone, bark and clay.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Scaly Speech is the name attributed to these creatures by the scholars that are aware of them... or the far fetched tales of drunken sailors in Far Harbor. Darts tend to speak it with a very quick, whiplash cadence while Gnaws are prone to only speaking the most important parts of a sentence and in slow gravely tones.

Common Dress Code

Darts generally wear simple armors and outfits made from tanned animal flesh. These leathers serve to protect their otherwise soft bodies and to display colorful accessories that represent their devotion to the old masters. They also favor elaborate masks as well, carved into the likenesses of the masters. Gnaws generally wear little clothing for it would not hold up to the decaying effects of the water-logged lifestyle they lead. When on duty they prefer to wear warpaint and sometimes gold jewelry which they believe is sacred to the old masters.

Common Taboos

Destruction of any of the temples, artifacts or gates belonging to the master caste. Invasion of their territory.

Common Myths and Legends

The idea of the old Master Caste has become the foundation for their beliefs. What may have been the leaders and scientists of the original Scaly Folk have become the names concept now worshiped like divinities. However, much like the ancient civilization itself, the current Scaly Folk know very little about the old masters. What they do know they don't understand and what they don't know they invent.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Scaly Folk have no tolerance for other intelligent species. They are at best a source of food and at worst a source of disaster akin to he one that befell the old masters.
Unknown, possibly extraterrestrial
Darts generally live 50-70 years. Gnaws don't seem to suffer from any natural life span
Average Height
Darts are between two and half and three feet tall. Gnaws tend toward eight to ten feet in height when standing fully erect. Most walk with a considerable hunch though.
Average Weight
Darts average between 15 and 30lbs while Gnaws all weigh in between 270 and 500lbs.
Related Myths

Cover image: Scaly Folk by Antti Hakosaari


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