The coyotl are sometimes thought to be a cross between foxkin and wolfen, though the truth of this matter is uncertain. What is known is that the coyotl are agile, cunning tricksters, as lithe and clever, while still having the sturdiness of wolfen. Coyotl seem to be a wolfen adaptation for warmer climes, which also resulted in the development of greater cunning as well, to counter the many hidden dangers of the desert and hot plains. Coyotl are closely akin to the fey, thanks to their trickster natures, and this also allows them to interbreed with elves and gnomes.
Inveterate tricksters, coyotl are as prone to evil or good as any wolfen, though they are almost always chaotic in nature. They love a good joke, or a cunning scam or con, and are always on the lookout for an opportunity to take advantage of the foolish and the weak, though whether for malicious purposes or simply for the sake of a good joke varies by the individual. Coyotl are cunning and resourceful, but also are known for being poor at controlling their impulsive natures, which can get them into all sorts of trouble.
Taking after the lighter breeds of wild canines, coyotl bear their strongest resemblance to wild dogs, jackals, and (especially) coyotes given an anthropomorphic form. While their colorations tend to be typical for their specific subspecies, a most notable subrace of the coyotl are the jackalkin, who will very often have sleek black fur which they trim closely to their bodies. These black-furred members of the race are especially revered as guardians of the dead by many races, and so have gradually grown more common thanks to selective breeding among jackalfolk coyotl. Coyotl of this dark-furred breed may have the light build that is standard for most coyotl, or they might have a much sturdier build, more akin to a sirius or wolfen, thanks to this same selective breeding.
The wise never trust the coyotl, but they are friends with many races, since they do indeed offer valuable services from time to time, all the better to make their con jobs run smoothly when they do decide to pull them off. They get along best with the foxkin and with the elapi, all three of these races having an appreciation of the subtle arts of deception and seduction. Coyotl are somewhat fearful of feline beastfolk, who are too clever for them to fool, and often their physical equals, and so treat these beastfolk with respect and deference.
Traveling coyotl are common, since travel is often a part of the life of any con artist, and most coyotl have loosely-linked groups that band together in times of need, and share tricks, secrets, and assistance with relative freedom, so long as nobody tries to mooch too much off of any one person or group, thus making sure that good fortune gets spread out evenly. Adventuring coyotl, on the other hand, are much less common, since coyotl have a hard time restraining their trickster urges on their fellow party members. For those that can use such restraint, however, these coyotl make excellent allies.
Coyotl Subrace: Anubian Jackalfolk
While many coyotl take after jackals as well as coyotes and wild dogs, living as mere scavengers and tricksters on the fringes, anubians are holy tomb guardians, a special breed of warm-weather wolfen who have taken up their role with great solemnity. Usually anubians live in nomadic tribes that live nearby and defend the many tombs and hallowed places of the gods in their home countries, worshiping gods of the dead and of guardianship. As long as someone is there to honor the dead or the gods, then they are in no danger. But if one comes to plunder a tomb, then beware the wrath of the anubians. They have sleek black fur, eyes of red, blue, white, yellow or grey, large and sensitive ears, and lithe, slender builds which can make them look almost emaciated, considering that they are often as tall as wolfen. Besides their armor and weapons, anubian jackalfolk often adorn their bodies with intricate paintings of irridescent gold and blue, especially around their eyes. Many anubian jackalfolk are also known for travel and adventure, in the interests of learning more about the world around them, so as to make them more effective tomb guardians, and also to learn about the dead, and lay them to proper rest should they be in a state of restless undeath.
Winning tricksters and lovable rogues; these are the foxkin, sometimes called fox spirits or kitsune by the more spiritually-minded or superstitious (though these, actually, are separate, monstrous species), a race with strong ties to the fey. They enjoy the company of others immensely, but they only mate for life with other foxkin, or sometimes wolfen, who can sense the bonding that occurs. Such permanent matings are considered an open relationship in most cases, however, and sometimes mated couples will spend decades at a time apart, each foxkin pursuing separate interests. Being so strongly tied to magic and the sources from which the fey draw their powers, foxkin are not bound by the same laws that govern many mortals, and age at roughly the same rate as elves, though they reach maturity at about the same age as humans. Foxkin are able to interbreed with elves and gnomes, with whom they share similar ties to the fey world.
There are two distinct camps in the foxkin race. The first and most common camp are the playful but not malicious foxkin, who have a cheery disposition for the most part, are generally calm, rational and quite shrewd, and are given to bouts of manic energy in which they often come up with the most outlandish schemes. Mated pairs of foxkin usually even each other out, with only one of the pair having a manic episode at a time, with the other acting to keep their mate in check. The second and much rarer variety of foxkin are the dangerous, crafty sort, who hide their avaricious and deceitful hearts behind the natural charm of their race. Both sorts of foxkin are amiable and happy to be around others, and most are experts at conversation, especially at the art of entertaining speech without actually sharing any truly valuable information.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the foxkin are the very spirit of cunning, and the winning smiles and cheery expressions on their slender-muzzled, pointy-eared faces often hide the very soul of avarice and deceit – or perhaps just a good joke about to be played. Besides their animal-like heads, the foxkin also have furry bodies with coloration similar to those of normal foxes, and long, bushy tails that are their pride and joy, and always tended with perfect grooming. The best way to tell that something is wrong with a foxkin is to check and see if their tail isn't being groomed properly. Multiple tails on a foxkin are rare but not unheard-of, and some foxkin actually gain additional tails as they age, though this is not a universal trait. Their eyes are similar to humans in range of coloration, green being the most prevalent, though hazel and blue are very common, and violet occurs occasionally. Foxkin range in height from just under five feet to just under six feet in height.
Foxkin get along with almost all sentient races, except for the wolfen, who have little patience for the foxkin, who they regard as small and weak and noisy with all their cheery chatter. This feeling is known by the foxkin, but is not shared, as the race in general does not dislike anybody, though they are wary of all, since they themselves are expert tricksters and expect counter-tricks. Most others regard foxkin with the same amusement and guarded wariness that they reserve for traveling entertainers and halfling caravans.
Most foxkin are good by nature, or at least a pleasant neutral, but also rather chaotic, free-wheeling and fun-loving, but not terribly bound to any hard system of morals. They are fiercely loyal to their friends, however, and feel it almost their duty to cheer others and make the world around them a better place. There is, however, a significant minority of foxkin who are have wicked tendencies, using their skills and significant cunning for their own gain, or simply to amuse themselves at the expense of others.
The high life of the road is the life for many foxkin, who seem to greatly enjoy the life of an adventurer, both for its chances at material gain, and for the chance to do some good in the world and perhaps brighten a few lives. The fierce loyalty that foxkin have for their friends is also a driving factor in keeping them tied to parties rather than going off on their own.
Dogs have a long history of serving humankind as companions through all trials and desperate times. Considering this truth, it was only natural that there should arise a race born from the same origins, and serving the same purpose. Sirius, or dog soldiers as they are sometimes called, were one of the races brought by humans to Therafim, creations of the humans' own devising, though they never achieved sentience until the power of Therafim raised them from mere clever animals to the status of a developed race. Despite having gained freedom of thought with this rise to sentience, most sirius still serve humans, adopting human culture as their own, though some take to wild living and freedom like wolfen.
Sirius are the soul of loyalty and devotion. They live to serve, and they serve to live. Despite this basic truth of sirius life, most sirius are actually very laid-back, fun-loving and great party hounds when they are ‘off duty,’ or not assigned to a particular task. But the moment a sirius is given a charge, or put ‘on duty,’ then the dog soldier’s former carefree and playful nature vanishes completely, and they become intensely serious, willing to battle friends and family alike to fulfill their mission, even if it means death. This is the dichotomy of sirius life, and it is one to which they take with all their hearts. To be anything else is to be a wolf, and wolves are hunted down and killed as traitors to their kind.
The dog soldiers have the same basic appearance as wolfen: a canine head and ears, a furry body, and a tail. Beyond that, however, sirius are an incredibly diverse species, with as many different breeds as there are types of domesticated (or semi-domesticated) canine. This is due to the selective breeding programs that have occasionally been guided by many of the masters which the sirius serve, inspired largely by the success of breeding normal dogs, and then continued by the sirius themselves, who felt that the distinctive appearances that resulted from this selective breeding helped to make them more distinct as individuals – a mark of pride, as the distinct traits of their particular breed are noticed and known by all. Sirius breeds often retain the names of strange places from the distant past of humans, like German Shepherd, or Dalmatian, where the nonsentient version of a given breed first appeared, though where these places might be is a mystery.
Sirius are the loyal and devoted servants of other races, as a rule, save for a few isolated outcastes. They are on best terms with humans, and most sirius are slavishly devoted to the ones that they serve with all possible devotion. However, though sirius are most closely associated with humans, they also serve other races, being often found in small numbers among the dwarves and the halflings, especially. Dwarves respect the devotion of the sirius, and treat their willing servants with fairness and honor, while halflings see the sirius who travel with them as loyal friends in all situations, one of the only Big Folk to get such special treatment, and consider them especially favored pets. Elves do not generally like the lack of independence shown by sirius, and feel uncomfortable in their presence, and gnomes find it far too easy to resist playing pranks on the slow-witted, slavishly devoted sirius, and actually feel guilty doing so, so they prefer to avoid their company when possible. Sirius hate orcs and everything that chaotic, savage race stands for, and they dislike goblinoids, viewing them as regimented enemies to those who they serve – their opposite numbers – and regard it as a duty to combat these foes with all their might and will. With regards to wolfen, the sirius are divided. They feel a kinship to wolfen, but at the same time they cannot help but feel fearful of the rampant savagery of their wild cousins. Because of these mixed feelings, most sirius try to avoid wolfen whenever possible, though it is not unheard of for sirius who have lost their masters through some mishap to join a wolfen pack.
Sirius usually take the names given to them by the people they serve, and if they are never named, they do without. This sometimes leads to sirius being given a number, if they come from a highly-regimented military unit of dog soldiers, or a childish nickname, if they make friends with one of the children of their chosen charges. It is considered essential and desperately important by sirius to have a name, any name, because it implies a sense of belonging and acceptance. A sirius without a name is a vagabond and an outcast – an unloved dog – and is considered less than nothing.
Sirius usually adventure for only a few reasons. The most common is because one of their charges is going adventuring, and the sirius feels it a duty to come along and ensure the safety of their master or mistress. Another reason is that a stray, nameless sirius that lacks anyone to serve, for whatever chain of misfortunes that might have brought such an occurrence about, might latch onto a party and adopt its members as the sirius’ new ‘pack,’ which can easily occur if someone in a party casually gives a stray, lonely sirius a name, however insulting it might be. Finally, a sirius might become an independent, and decide to join an adventuring party because that best suits the wandering lifestyle that suits this streak of independence best.
They came as a hoary-furred host at first, raging out of the frozen reaches of the world, and none knew what brought them into creation. Some legends hold that they are the offspring of werewolves that bred with animals while in bestial shape, while others hold that they were shaped by the gods of the world’s wild, savage places, as embodiments of all that is untamed and dangerous. Whatever the truth, if the wolfen know, they will not tell, for wolves keep their own counsel. Suffice it to say that they are here, and let all nations of the world tremble at the fear of their coming, or rejoice at the arrival of strong new allies.
Wolfen are dour by nature to outsiders, sullen and unfriendly. This is mostly just a means of showing one’s strength and warrior’s fierceness, though, for once the wolfen relax, they can be a very boisterous race, loving to feast and revel as much as any jovial barbarian horde possibly can, trying to squeeze the last drops of enjoyment out of any time for fun, knowing that the next day might be their last. Because they live so close to death for much of their lives, wolfen esteem courage highly, and most do not flinch in the face of even the worst dangers. When a wolfen says something, that wolfen means it. Personal deception is considered one of the worst possible crimes that can be committed by wolfen, for while they may use subterfuge on the field of battle, their personal interactions are always done with the greatest honesty, and they are always loyal to their friends and packmates, even to death and beyond. Trust is how a pack functions, and the only way that it survives, and so wolfen hold to their trustworthiness above all else, because of the social stigma attached to liars.
Wolfen are massive, burly creatures with lupine characteristics, including such rare specimens of wolfhood as maned and red wolves, the end effect looking like a seamless melding of humanoid and wolf. They have thick fur, long furred tails, strong muzzles filled with sharp teeth, and tall, well-muscled bodies. They range in height from slightly under six feet to slight over seven feet, with males tending towards the higher end of the spectrum, though females are usually not far behind.
Wolfen like dwarves for their stalwart courage, their honor, and their devotion to hard work, and even evil wolfen try to avoid fighting dwarves, viewing them as respected adversaries who they feel it a shame to kill. Elves are viewed with suspicion and distrust, seeming flighty and often too haughty for their own good, besides their use of magic and dealings with the strange creatures of the fey (though wolfen can interbreed with elves, thanks to some distant ties to wendigo fey, though these are so distant that such itnerbreeding is extremely rare). Most herbivore-species-based beastfolk are considered easy prey, and even good-aligned wolfen must struggle not to take advantage of these races, while actaeon, equitra, and turos are seen as worthy adversaries and occasional friends. As can be expected, wolfen and feline beastfolk do not generally get along, each race getting on the nerves of the other with their behavior, though there are numerous exceptions to this, and it is not uncommon for prides of felines to have alliances with packs of wolfen. As a general rule, foxkin are too shifty and dishonest for wolfen to like very much, though even wolfen are often taken in by the cunning and cleverness of the fox spirits. Orcs and wolfen, regardless of alignment, hate each other bitterly, each viewing the other race as the opposite side of a dark mirror, one that they would just as soon see shattered in pieces. Good-aligned wolfen may make exceptions in individual cases, and even give a lone orc or half-orc the benefit of the doubt, but beyond this, the two races are locked in a struggle where, if it were not for the difference of their preferred places to live, one side or the other would drive their foes into complete extinction.
Regarding gender relations, males and females within a pack are considered literally separate-but-equal, with each sex having their own hierarchy mostly apart from that of the other sex, but females being roughly subordinate to males in most cases, though this is more a matter of wilderness practicality and the realities of pregnancy and child bearing than sexism.
There are two main camps of wolfen alignment, and each pack of wolfen will generally take after one or the other. Most wolfen that a hapless traveler will meet in the wilds, roving through the forests and trekking across the plains, are Chaotic Evil in alignment, living in a pack where the strongest and smartest make the rules, and those weaker than them finding their places in the rough hierarchy, with constant jockeying for position and prestige. However, there are a significant number of Chaotic Good wolfen packs, and several Neutral ones as well, who tend to make friends with other, similarly-minded races in their general vicinities as quickly as possible, to ensure that they are known to be allies and not mistaken for their evil fellows.
Wolfen take the wilderness for their own, preferring climes that are temperate to cool. Most packs are nomadic, either living in harmony with or raiding the other races who might live on the lands they travel, depending on the alignment of the pack in question. Some wolfen set up halls and rough villages in places where they are the unchallenged rulers of the area, and follow a simple, rough life of basic vassalage, with the lord and lady of the hall giving out favors to those below them, and receiving allegiance in return, though the wolfen are too wild for this to go beyond small-scale fiefdoms.
Wolfen usually stay in their packs, living simple, nomadic lifestyles of hunting and gathering and occasional raiding. However, it is not uncommon for wolfen to take after a certain alignment preference, but to be born into a pack with a differing alignment. These wolfen usually wander until they find a place, and most are happy to assist bands of adventurers. Also, wolfen find great glory in the combat and great deeds that most adventurers face, and many will follow that path of life for the chance to become legendary.