Like other plane-born creatures, genasi are not typical inhabitants of Alm, but are likely to exist as individual created entities.
The Overseers—who created humans and mor—are an obvious source for such creations, only too happy to experiment with elemental infusion and discard any failures. Such a creature would likely have escaped during the Parosean insurrection, so they would probably look to the Three Kingdoms as their people.
Other possibilities include primal magic; in ages past, many people of Alm worshipped primal elemental beasts. Perhaps a one might have performed a ritual to bind themselves to such a power, forever imbuing their descendants with elemental force.
Perhaps also a summoned elemental servant has simply existed too long on the material plane, and started to develop a concept of “self” beyond a human-like shape and a set of instructions. Much like other extraplanar creatures, elementals can begin to “go native” after long-term exposure to “being”.
Much like tieflings, daevas are a material creature infused with the immortal essence of an astral being.
In Escarnum, daevas would not be understood as a “species”, but as a unique occurrence—most likely the result of a celestial being attempting to empower a loyal follower. It’s likely that such a creature might be unaware of its own nature, and perhaps even mistake itself for an Awakened if it seems human-like.
The memory of other lifetimes gives the daeva a unique rolepaying hook that you might find appealing. In Escarnum, this especially has echoes of the Felbraug shared mind; we encourage your GM to allow “re-skinning” the daeva as an unusual felbraug, if this is appealing to you. Alternatively, this could represent a mortal of any species who carries another intelligence with them; perhaps a curse, perhaps a bound celestial or an ancestor ghost, perhaps even a symbiote of the far realms.
A daeva might also be a celestial in material form, much as a tiefling could be for an infernal. Devils and angels may oppose one another, but they are of the same essence. Both exist only on the astral plane, and both must use a willing mortal as a conduit if they wish to exist on the material.
In this situation, it’s important to remember that the angels of Escarnum are not especially kind creatures. Celestials usually bargain in good faith, but they are also dispassionate and utilitarian; the values inspired by their immortality and distant perspective are generally inscrutable to mortals. Even if they are working to good ends, they are still using mortals as a means to that end.
However, like devils, angels often find that staying material for an extended time allows mortal ideas to begin creeping in…
Former humans influenced by a fiendish taint, tieflings are the evidence of mortals consorting with evil extraplanar powers.
There is no reason that such a thing could not happen in Escarnum; mortals still seek power from sources outside their world, and evil entities of all sorts still seek to corrupt and control mortals and their affairs. In fact, many demons and devils are particularly eager to exert their influence on the material plane, in hopes that they will eventually attract a cult following.
However, the planes of Escarnum are more abstract than those of other settings, and their borders more difficult to cross; a creature like a tiefling would be all but unique amongst the “ordinary” races. Most likely, a tiefling would not be born, but would be created by an infernal creature seeking to empower one of its followers—or the unfortunate child of such a follower.
A tiefling may also represent an actual devil or demon, who has taken on material form to achieve some goal in the mortal world. Infernal creatures often tempt mortals into summoning them with clever bargains, which enables them to share the summoner’s life force until the bargain is fulfilled. However, most dislike long stays in the mortal world—they find that “being meat” has a way of leading to decidedly mortal sympathies.
In most settings, halflings are smaller and weaker than medium-sized folk, but known for their agility and pro-social communities. They are most often creatures of comfort thrust into the role of adventurers, and likely to play comic-relief in a light-hearted story.
In most cases, an abilen is the ideal replacement for a halfling. Their mechanical strengths and weaknesses are quite similar, and they are likewise associated with community values, common sense, luck, good humour and material comforts.
Kobolds and felbraug are also worth considering. These occupy a less similar flavour niche, but they match the small stature and nimble nature of the halflings. Mechanically, both offer similar appeal to the fan-favoured halfling rogue.
Finally, if you enjoy the comedy variants of halflings (and similar folk like the notorious kender), the gremblin (Almish goblin) may be quite appealing. A small species themed around family and community values, gremblins also have a cultural view of ownership that encourages you to filch anything you need (from those who can afford it).
Perhaps more than any other creature here, gnomes have filled a wide variety of roles across RPG settings. Some cast them as tricksters, others as bumbling inventors and eccentric wizards, others as bardic tale-weavers, others as helpful but reclusive fairy folk.
Ultimately, this shifting identity the major reason gnomes don’t, by default, appear in Escarnum‘s world. If you wish to bring them back in, their natural place depends on which version you enjoy.
Inventor-gnomes would be a good fit for the bizarre wizard-silicon-valley of Independence proper, or perhaps underground digging for Precursor relics. Fairy and trickster gnomes would be strongest in Deepwood, and other places where the border with the Feywild stretches thin. Bardic gnomes might even be travellers from Aethys, or beyond.
Alternatively, if you’d like to stick to a gnomeless Escarnum, you can find a similar appeal to gnomes in a number of places:
- Tinker gnomes: kobolds are huge fans of technology in Escarnum. If your idea of a gnome is a fearless inventor who’s only ever two steps from burning off their own eyebrows, a this is an ideal replacement.
- Trickster gnomes: The abilen may not have too much in common flavour-wise, but they offer a lot of the same mechanics; small stature, natural charisma, and the tools to slip by any foe.
- Disaster gnomes: For big chaos energy in a pint-sized package, the gremblin is an ideal choice. Similar to kobolds, they are characterised by frantic creativity, short attention span and semi-comprehensible good intentions.
As archetypal miners, engineers and crafters, the classic dwarves have a lot in common with Alm’s kobold clans. If you wish to include dwarves in setting, a good place for them may be as allies of the kobold clans, working side-by-side in the mountains; alternatively, they may be a race that rivals the felbraug for age, who faintly remember clues to the Precursors’ secrets.
If you don’t want to add dwarves to the setting, a kobold of the Vaess clan will serve well as a tinkerer or item-crafter. However, if you are more interested in the mechanics of the D&D 4e dwarf, you will find them present as the bannyr. Likewise, if your idea of a dwarf is more of a heavy-drinking, rowdy warrior with a thick beard and a thicker accent, the bannyr are certainly your closest match.
Dragonborn evoke the importance and majesty of perhaps the most iconic creature in common fantasy. In Escarnum, however, dragons are not nearly as prominent as in most Dungeons & Dragons settings; they are far more rare and less integral to the world. Between the scarcity of dragons and the absence of a dragon creator-god, it’s no surprise that dragonborn are not a standard PC choice.
If the dragonborn did appear in Alm, they would most certainly spring from a natural source, rather than the hand of a deity. Since dragons are rare, perhaps dragonborn originated in a time long ago, when their ancestors were more plentiful; perhaps something happened in that era to wipe out many of the dragons, giving the beast-kin their chance to seize control. On the other hand, perhaps dragonborn never dwelt in Alm, and instead hail from one of the less-explored continents. Or maybe they are a created species, hybrids created by the Overseers in their outlandish experiments.
Alternatively, if you would like to play something that belongs in Alm and holds similar appeal, you have many choices; gnolls mirror their offensive strength, while equitarn and jotunar provide similar bulk and hardiness. Soratami and equitarn are good candidates if you are fond of the dragonborn tendency toward a dutiful, regimented nature.