“Secrets are easy. But good gossip–that’s hard.” – a nefortu regular at the Beast and Bandit pub
Chaja are a traditionally subterranean race, known widely for their countless generations of enslavement by the shuddeni. While many remain under the yoke of their eyeless oppressors, a growing free population of chaja has emerged in the surface world, in both major Avendarian cities and in their own secluded mountain enclaves.
|Pracs / level||Resist||Vuln||Other||Language|
Can eat poison food
Chaja are very tall humanoids, comparable in stature to an alatharya, yet possessing more agile frames that lack obvious muscular definition owing to layers of subcutaneous fat. They possess little innate sexual dimorphism; they have ample amounts of thick body hair and frequently facial hair regardless of sex. All of their hair is naturally oily, thought to protect them from the cold and damp of their preferred living spaces, and ranges in color from white to black. Their skin possesses shades of either grey or ruddy undertones, almost universally pale in youth but darkening considerably with age. Chaja who grow up underground will tend to have colorless, milky white eyes, while chaja who mature with regular exposure to sunlight may develop muted iris colors. All chaja have hair and skin that darken with age, regardless of sunlight.
Chaja frequently dye their hair, and possess numerous regional styles and rituals surrounding their hair and beards.
Below are sample descriptions from NPCs and past player characters. These descriptions are for reference only; you should not use them for your characters.
Shethrel, a goat herder
Tall and lean rather than muscular, Shethrel is the lone chaja in this
village. If any of the alatharya who reside here have any objections to his
residence or tending the local goat herd, he bears no sign of it besides a
quiet, solitary manner. He looks relatively young, his greyish skin unlined
and his sleek white hair clubbed at the base of his neck. Despite his close
work with animals, he carries with him only the faint aroma of soap.
Playing a Chaja
Strong, tough, and agile, the chaja make excellent warriors.
Perseverance is a principal virtue of the chaja, and stoicism in the face of adversity is viewed as the greatest strength. This creed depends to take on different tones however depending on a chaja’s origin.
The War of Fire marked the beginning of chaja isolationism, as well as the prequel to their later legacy as a slave race. Hiding themselves from the world after their above-ground cities fell, the chaja retreated from the surface entire. Some strongholds, digging too deep, came upon the shuddeni, who with their nascent psionics and mind-breaking demonic powers were able to break the chaja, reducing the proud people to slaves. Following the War of Night, many chaja fleeing enslavement or trickling out from the Brintor strongholds began integrating with the cities of the surface. Unfortunately, the War of Night damaged the perception of the chaja, and many found themselves shunted to the margins and regarded as slightly hairier, more frightening alatharya, to the annoyance of both races.
The chaja were the first race to settle the Brintor Mountains after the Sundering, having emerged from the heart of those mountains. In the centuries just preceding the War of Fire, many chaja cities fell to Daphoan imperialism; repurposing the chaja’s stone towers for themselves, the aelin would seal off the underground halves of their cities, rendering most of their remaining territories exclusively underground by the time the War of Fire began. After human and srryn fire mages began their fiery genocide across the western half of Avendar, what few remaining above-ground chaja cities were reduced to cinders, and the ensuing struggle for territory and food splintered the strongholds further. It took centuries before struggling strongholds began slowly reclaiming the ruins of their old above-ground homes, only for the coming of the War of Night to disrupt their recovery. Marlax’s near-genocidal anti-chaja campaign in the Brintors as well as shuddeni expansion that saw the free chaja as little more than a new resource to exploit destroyed multiple cities. The final straw was the razing of Tisroc, a new settlement of mixed free and formerly enslaved chaja south of Earendam, just after the war; the remaining free chaja adopted policies of extreme isolation, withdrawing once more underground and gradually becoming all but forgotten to the surface.
In modern times, the chaja strongholds exist in a state of extreme isolation, comparable only to the ch’taren Havens for their hostility to outsiders.
Some chaja fleeing from the War of Fire dug too deep, coming upon the shuddeni of Yithoul who were then in a war of extinction with the Ilthina tribe. Entering into a struggle for territory, the Yithoul shuddeni faced extinction pincered between two superior armies until a psionicist among their number discovered the unusually malleable minds of the chaja. Gathering their psionicists, the shuddeni executed a brutal and swift campaign to subdue the chaja, turning them into living weapons against the Ilthina shuddeni and decimating them. This secured the hegemony of Yithoul through the modern day, as well as establishing their first enslaved population of chaja.
The shuddeni have continued this practice into modern times, still utilizing psionic processes that allow them to mutilate the minds of young chaja slaves in order to instill in them a fear of defying their masters and an instinct to obey those with authority. Though this process is far from perfect, few chaja escape without lingering damage, and most never even think of escape at all, contributing to the perception of enslaved chaja as complicit or even willing participants in their own enslavement. The life of a chaja of Yithoul tends to be difficult and brutal, save for those lucky few who manage to become favored pets to powerful masters, but even the best-regarded chaja is thought of as little more than an animal, an un-person, undeserving of even the consideration of dignity. Within their communities, many of their various practices and aesthetics mirrors that of their shuddeni captors, though some secretly handed-down memories of former ones remain. Physically, the chaja of Yithoul tend to be both larger and more hairless (whether by birth or depilation) than their counterparts as well as uniformly grey in complexion, mostly owing to extensive and violent eugenics efforts from the shuddeni.
Though the buying and selling of slaves within the territories of Earendam is outlawed, shuddeni lobbying has ensured that slaves brought in from without remain legal.
Some chaja form reclusive groups, finding shelter where they can in the wilds. Others attempt to integrate with wider society. Crude stereotypes and lingering prejudice frustrate their efforts in both cases. Humans especially resent the chaja’s role in the ancient War of Night and the more recent Eyeblight War; due to their use as ballast and shock troops during the War of Night, the damaged demeanor of a Yithoul chaja pressed into war is the first thing many non-chaja think of when they think of chaja at all: servile, aggressive, and dangerous.