The Races of Zendikar Edit
Vampires Vampires live openly in Guul Draz and are famed for the decadence and perversion of their lifestyle. Bloodchiefs, the progenitors of their race, control the opulent city of Malakir. Vampire society is divided by "family" allegiances, each family beholden to its Bloodchief. Each family controls a small amount of territory and routes through the swamp, although the main currency of any family is in its connections and relationships. The tastes and passions of the Bloodchief tend to be imprinted on the vampires he or she creates.
There are five greater families in Guul Draz: Nirkana, Kalastria, Emevera, Urnaav, and Ghet. Dozens of other lesser families are scattered across Guul Draz, each with a contingent of undead nulls appropriate to their place in vampire society. Whenever a vampire fully drains the blood of a living creature without destroying the husk, a vampire null is created from the body. If nulls are left without orders, they will hunt and kill living things that they can find.
The kor live a spare and nomadic existence. They travel mercilessly light, carrying with them only the essentials, valuing the portability of individual skill and strength of character over more "static" virtues. "We were not meant to put down roots," they say. "The heart is a moving organ." Despite their constant motion, the kor revere locations in a deep sense. They travel in small bands along one of several pilgrimage routes, visiting dozens of sacred sites across Zendikar. Each pilgrimage circuit takes decades, and many are lost to Zendikar's dangers along the way.
The kor are masters of ropes and hooks, using them to travel and to hunt, and incorporating them into their spirituality. They rarely use unreliable devices such as crossbows to propel their grappling hooks onto cliff faces or into flying game, relying instead on simple, sturdy rope and the skill of the arm. A hooked line is also a social and sacred symbol for the kor, representing their connection to each other and to the world around them.
More merfolk live in Tazeem than elsewhere, but they can be found on every continent in Zendikar. Although the merfolk are born in the water, they have adapted to life on land. Curious, thoughtful, and analytical, the merfolk are natural explorers. Merfolk tend to be more solitary than other races and don't cultivate large communities. But even merfolk who spend most of their time exploring will establish a home base, a place they return to before setting out again. Run by merfolk scholars, the Lighthouse at Sea Gate is the center of learning for explorers of all races. A library filled with scrolls, and maps, and writings about the lost civilization, this is a storehouse of all the collected knowledge about Zendikar.
Goblins thrive in Akoum, Murasa, and Ondu as well as in most settlements and outposts. Although there are numerous tribes, the Tuktuk and Grotag tribes boast the largest warrens. Much of a goblin's life is devoted to finding and plundering ruin sites. The goblins choose their tribal leaders by their perceived industriousness. The goblin that leads is the one who has managed to retrieve the most interesting or powerful object from a ruin. In Affa, the main settlement in Akoum, many goblins hire themselves out as guides or trapfinders. Of course, the normal plan is to help find something of value, trigger a trap intentionally, steal the object, and run away.
Bala Ged is the homeland of the Joraga elves and the planeswalker Nissa Revane. The Joraga elves have little respect for any other race or even other elves. They see the survival of their nation as most important, and jealously guard their traditions. Many outsiders view their nomadic clans as roving bands of murderers, but there is a complex culture behind their aggressive exterior.
After splitting from the Joraga Nation, the Tajuru elves settled in Murasa and Tazeem. Large numbers of Joraga have made homes in the towering trees of the Oran-Rief forest, where they inhabit villages suspended from the treetops. The Tajuru are rumored to be the best guides in Zendikar. Using zip-lines and expert climbing techniques, the elves fearlessly span the gaps between branches or cliff faces.
They are known for their skill at creating everything from folk medicine to weaponry, and live in villages called clachans. Major regions are led by cenns, kithkin particularly apt at tactics, leadership, or diplomacy. But much of what makes kithkin who they are comes from thoughtweft. This empathic bond connects all kithkin, making each individual subconsciously aware of each other's thoughts, moods, and actions. This gives them the ability to cooperate like no other species and is the basis for many other kithkin qualities. For example, they are famed as sympathetic listeners, which strengthens their ties to each other and other races. In fact, they compare their society, and life itself, to the "wend and weave" of cloth; all is connected and interdependent. They are also a superstitious people. Everything from healing to farming to warfare is fraught with little rituals, charms, and ways to avoid ill luck.
The merrow are merfolk who dwell in the rivers and streams that are spread throughout the world. In fact, they don't just live in them – they control them. Water magic allows merrow to create new rivers and divert old ones. Because of this, no one knows the Merrow Lanes (as Lorwyn's rivers are called) better than the merfolk. They use this knowledge to travel the world, serving as messengers, traders, and diplomats. Merrow are somewhat "cold fish," with limited and restrained emotions. They make up for this with razor-sharp minds and razor-sharp tongues. Just as kithkin are Lorwyn's best listeners, merrow are the best talkers, able to placate and persuade better than anyone. Like fish, merrow travel in tight knit schools, groups of merfolk united by common interests or purpose, whether it's commerce, changing the Lanes, or exploring the system of underground waterways known as the Dark Meanders.
The longest lived of any Lorwyn mortal, they are wise, protective, and strong. They start out as normal trees, until they undergo a change known as the Rising sometime during their sapling stage. Partly as a result, treefolk tend to be very concerned about the health and welfare of the forests they live in, as well as the fauna that make that forest home. Treefolk are a varied race, with personalities and purpose largely depending on their species. For example, ashes are the warriors and druids, birches the scouts, rowans the mystics, and black poplars the shamans with dark regenerative powers. One of the best known, and most unique, treefolk is Colfenor, thought to be the only yew treefolk on Lorwyn. He is extremely old and very mysterious. Some think he harbors some dark, unique knowledge that could impact all of Lorwyn, but even if he does, he is the type not to tell.
Some are wanderers who care nothing about borders or small folk, while others are hermits so wise that other races come to them for arbitration and diplomacy. This divide is emphasized by the fact that giants "live large"—when they feel something, they do not go halfway. Angry giants are really angry, and introspective giants extremely introspective. The vast majority of giants can't really understand how to interact with the smaller races; their lifespan and perspective are so different that they tend to do things their own way, without much regard for those ant-sized beings around them. A giant's main enemies tend to be other giants, thanks to their territoriality and single-mindedness. Giants act big, but they also sleep big. Their dreams are as epic as their lives; in fact, young giants derive their names from what they dream during this namesleep. Names are important to giants; they are summations of what the giant does and believes in. You can see examples in the mad vagabond seer Rosheen Meanderer and the arbiter Galanda Feudkiller
Flamekin are intense, passionate elementals made of stone and flame. They are daredevils and adventurers. Their ability to turn their body's fires from cold to intensely hot makes them deadly enemies in battle. Flamekin are semi-nomadic, born out of a desire to explore new lands and experience life to the fullest. They are a much wiser race than one might expect, being adherents of the Path of Flame, a process of physical and spiritual self-discovery that revolves around the fires that constantly burn upon their bodies. The Path is very dangerous, and very few flamekin see ito the end, especially since that end involves a fiery death the likes of which is rarely seen. Their flame is seen as a threat by the elves, and conflict may be brewing between the two races.
The faeries are whimsical, mischievous, vain, and seen as nuisances by most of the other Lorwyn races. Their pranks are usually relatively harmless but always annoying and embarrassing. They live extremely short lives, but in that time they live to the fullest, constantly looking for new tricks to ease their boredom. Though they usually use their small forms and potent sleep or illusion magic to evade enemies, they can still fight remarkably well when necessary. Faeries can also use their magic to invade and steal dreams, especially the powerful ones of giants. They claim to do this for the benefit of their queen, Oona, though the faerie reputation is such that many doubt if Oona even exists. Faeries travel in groups called cliques, and use rings set in the ground to travel cross the world in the blink of an eye.
Boggarts are muck-dwelling goblins that are all about the new: new sensations, new possessions, new experiences. Their lives revolve around the novel and interesting, and they stop at nothing to possess or feel new things. In fact, the sharing of new objects and sensations is the only real law boggarts have; those that break it are never forgiven. Warrens of these crude goblins are led by "aunties" (though they aren't necessarily female), usually boggarts of great age and experience who explain the meaning behind things or sensations that are particularly puzzling. The greatest auntie of all is Auntie Grub, whose ancient tales still guide boggart behavior. Feasts are one way for boggarts in different warrens to get together and share new things and sensations. As one might expect, these gatherings are wild and disgusting in the extreme.