Races in the Empire
Aucothia is inhabited mainly by humans. Only humans can freely rise to any level of society, but there is no race whose members are unable to achieve prominence in one area or another. Dragonborn, dwarves, and halflings, make up significant minorities, in that order. Goliaths are uncommon in general, but maintain concentrations in the mountainous areas. Half-orcs are thinly spread throughout the Empire.
There are some small groups of eladrin, elves, and gnomes, usually wanderers. A few shifter bloodlines exist, mostly in the east. Tieflings are extremely few, and half-elves rarer still. Devas are rarest of all.
In terms of treatment, devas, eladrin, elves, goliaths, and gnomes are thought of as perpetual foreigners. This imposes certain limitations on them, but also frees them from other strictures, such as serfdom. Half-elves can pass as foreigners or citizens depending on whether they adopt the customs of the Empire or not.
Goblins and hobgoblins are considered citizens of the Empire, and treated on even footing with other civilized races. Bugbears, ogres, and orcs (but not half-orcs) are treated as chattel races, and are only accepted into settlements under the control of a guardian. With respect to frequency, goblins appear in equal numbers as dwarves; orcs are as numerous as halfings; and hobgoblins are on par with goliaths or half-orcs.
Devas are as presented in the Player's Handbook 2: exceedingly rare, singular entities.
Dragonborn are the most populous minority race in Aucothia. The dragonborn of the East, West, North, and Center all have different cultures, and there are many immigrants from the Vodlai archipelago, as well. They are revered for their strength and presence, but as they are forbidden from serving in the Bone Lancers, and few have the aptitude to become Star Warlocks, they are prevented from joining the highest levels of society.
Dragonborn often find themselves working for military arm of the High Temple or following the Cult of the Emperor in some facility that's segregated from the Bone Lancers. Many Dragonborn act as bounty hunters or become mercenaries.
In the Central Range, dragonborn are the most numerous, and many live in villages composed entirely of members of a single, greater clan, known as a sept. This is a common pattern among many races in the Central Range. Many revere Bahamut as a figure of personal, private faith. Others are devotees of the High Temple. A few are both. While dragonborn may develop any type of breath weapon, fire and cold are the most common ones seen in this area.
Dwarves in the Central Range are actually slightly more numerous than the halflings, a situation that is reversed throughout the rest of the Empire. Most of the dwarves here live as part of other communities, but dwarven sept villages are also encountered. There are rumors of a secret religion practiced in these places. Otherwise, the faith of the High Temple is by far the preferred religion of dwarves throughout the Aucothian Empire, though a small minority who live near the dragonborn follow the teachings of Bahamut. Mercenaries and bounty hunters are relatively common professions among adventurous dwarves.
Eladrin generally come from the Deep Woods beyond the Empire to the southwest, or the Vodlaian Archipelago, though a few are rumored to hail from the far north. They are usually encountered singly. The only exception are communities founded around monasteries dedicated to Saint Ioun, where small clusters of eladrin often gather to study. The popular faiths of the eladrin are that of the Sisterhood and the Twin Goddesses (both discussed later), though traveling eladrin carry their own faiths from their homelands, such as the mysticism of the Spiral Tower.
Elves and Gnomes
These races are rarely encountered in Aucothia. Elves never settled the forests of the Empire in the past. Gnomes do not seem to frequent those parts of the Feywild that connect within Aucothia's borders. Representatives of both races, then, usually hail from the Deep Woods.
Due to past invasion attempts, there was never much love lost between the inhabitants of the Deep Woods and the Aucothians, but after decades of peace, some find themselves in the Empire to trade or simply travel. Elves and gnomes are outside Aucothian society even more so than the eladrin, and are regarded as permanent strangers. However, this does give them more freedom to move about the land than any of the other races. Both of these races follow the religions of their homeland, usually the Devotions of the Four Seasons as represented by Corellon, Pelor, Sehanine, and The Raven Queen. In Aucothia, they generally keep their religious devotions very private.
Wanderers of the highlands, Goliaths organize themselves into septs, like several other races. Some believe that they originated the clannish culture which persists in the Central Range. Unlike the sept villages, however, goliath clansmen tend to wander from place to place, usually by the seasons, but lately, it is becoming less unusual to see septs completely relocating to new territories.
While most goliaths pay more attention to the primal spirits than the divinities, many find themselves drawn to becoming devotees of the Great Master. The numerous competitions and sports incorporated into that religion's festivities strongly appeal to their competitive nature.
Half-elves are nearly as rare as devas. Those few that were born in Aucothia blended into the human population, and were absorbed back into the culture, generation after generation. This changed with the same Edict of Breadth that integrated the tieflings. As half-elves had human blood, and could pass for human, the Edict stated that they were entitled to become Bone Lancers. This inspired some to stay who would otherwise leave. Among those associated with the Bone Lancers and the Cult of the Emperor, the half-elves found themselves in the same political factions as the tieflings and half-orcs, forging an unusual common cause. A few half-elves find themselves becoming Iounic Seekers or joining the Sisterhood rather than aspiring to become Bone Lancers.
At times persecuted, enslaved, or manipulated by the Empire, currently the stock of half-orcs is on the rise. The first significant population of half-orcs was created centuries ago by an Imperial breeding program that sought to develop a race of overlords to gain control of the numerous orc tribes in the Orange Peaks. This spectacularly failed, as neither the orcs nor the half-orcs displayed any inclination to fall into such convenient roles.
For many years, half-orcs lived on the fringes of the Empire, sheltering in marginal places, such as the highlands of the Yu river system, in order to avoid discrimination or outright enslavement. Some of them lived under the protection of the dwarves or dragonborn. Others followed the goliath nomads or squatted in their abandoned encampments. A few served as riverbank muscle for halflings. Eventually, a few managed to settle in relatively productive permanent locations and form their own septs.
When the Edict of Breadth was issued, the half-orcs were one of the three races newly allowed to join the previously all-human Bone Lancers. (The shifters were permitted to become Bone Lancers before the Edict was promulgated.) They were in fact more naturally suited to the role than the half-elves or tieflings, but were held back by institutional prejudice more than the other two races. Nevertheless, their lot did improve, as no race whose members were qualified to join that elite group could be considered automatically chattel, as they previously had been categorized.
Ironically, it is a repetition of history that seems to be leading to their greater integration into Aucothian society. The goblins of the eastern Orange Peaks succeeded where the Empire failed in pacifying and organizing the orcs. The goblins, like the Empire of old, employ the half-orcs as overseers for the full orcs, but as contracted agents rather than merely an intermediate form of servitor. Numerous orcish bands of sellswords are starting to make their way across the Empire, led by hobgoblin captains and half-orc sergeants. Some of the half-orcs are going one step further and becoming captains in their own right, and not just of orcish mercenary companies.
Half-orcs would seem to be a natural fit for the Temple of the Great Master, but many resent the state religions with their ties to the suffering of their ancestors. The exception is of course those who aspire to the Bone Lancer regiments, and are uniformly part of the Imperial Cult. For the most part, half-orcs keep matters of religious faith close to their chests.
Halflings are the third most numerous race in the Empire, are relatively few in number in the Central Range, where they are outnumbered by goliath clans. There are a surprising number of halfling warlocks. These halflings usually begin their careers by studying the ancient texts kept in the Iounic Monasteries. Many halflings followed the path of Saint Avandra, a fact that served them poorly in recent times. Most are now overt followers of the Twin Goddesses, a faith regarded with some suspicion due to its Vodlaian origins, but one that remains free of official persecution. Other popular faiths include the Sisterhood, and the teachings of Saint Ioun. More halflings join the Constellation Bureau and become part of the imperial government than members of either the dragonborn or the dwarves.
Most halflings who live along the Yu river gain their livelihood from trade and the transportation of goods and passengers. Some choose to permanently live in houseboats. Most halflings enjoy some modicum of success, as those that don't prefer to seek out opportunities in other places rather than staying put in destitution.
Humans comprise the majority of the residents of Aucothia, and their culture is that of the Empire at large. For many years, only humans could become part of the Bone Lancers, and humans still dominate the ranks of the Constellation Bureau in numbers greater than their overall portion in the population. In the Central Range, some humans have organized themselves in the manner of the dragonborn sept villages, but few are outright nomads like the goliaths.
Both longtooth and razorclaw shifters mostly come from the east, where their bloodlines originated. They are few in number, and some mistakenly think them to be part of a chattel race if they are not clearly identified with a known organization. Longtooth shifters often live and travel in small family structures, such as parents and children, or groups of siblings. Usually all of them are trained in the same or complementary occupations. Razorclaw shifters general travel singly, sometimes merely as wanderers or vagrants.
Tieflings hail from the so-called Realm of Erathis, in the south, where they are a significant minority, on par with the halfling population of Aucothia. Despite the enmity between the nations, it was decided within the past two generations that, because tieflings are descended from humans, they are qualified to become Bone Lancers. While tieflings are not naturally disposed towards the role, a significant number migrated northward for the chance at attaining an aristocratic status. Few succeeded, but those that did were able to achieve prosperity.
The rare tiefling encountered is usually assumed to have some station, even though they are not necessarily Bone Lancers. Those who did not qualify often found some position in the Cult of the Emperor, which at least included many of the rites honoring Erathis that they were familiar with from their homeland. Tieflings also continued on in their devotions to Saint Avandra and a few to Saint Ioun.