The Astomi are the elite members of the Shadowmage's forces. Powerful psykers, and very intelligent, the Astomi act as leaders, diplomats and, in the case of the most powerful, the guards of the Shadowmage himself.
The Astomi were bred millenia ago, in the breeding pits of Balzot. Unlike the other dark races, the Astomi were few and far between. Originally bred to battle the powerful magi of the time, the Astomi have the ability to use psychic powers. This renders their powers undectable and unstoppable by normal magic-users. Though only a handful survived the Mage Wars, the Shadowmage has since begun a new breeding program, ensuring a growth in their numbers.
The Astomi are proud, and consider themselves superior to the other dark races. As such, they very rarely allow themselves to be lead. Only the Shadowmage himself, and his most powerful warlords, are capable of commanding them. As such, Astomi, when encountered in the presence of other races (such as Orcs, Arim, or humans), will nearly always be in charge. The Shadowmage himself encourages this, as they are intelligent, wily and steadfastly loyal. If a group of Astomi are encountered together, the psyker of the most powerful grade will assume charge. Astomi are trained automatically to detect this kind of power, and will respectfully (but grudgingly) yield command. An Astom considers the Shadowmage to be his master and father, and the Death Queen to be their Goddess, and will follow every command they give, even one of suicide.
The Astomi do not work well with others, and are rarely found in groups. Unless forced together by the Shadowmage, an Astom will shun the company of other Astomi, preferring to work alone. Commanding Orcs and other 'lesser' races is considered a reflection of their superiority, and is endured by the Astomi. Individual Astomi, not under the direct command of the Shadowmage, usually live alone in large citadels, or roam the land trying to increase their knowledge and power, and surpress those inferior to them. However, the majority live in the tower of Carakum, or in various Arim and Orcish cities and citadels, ruling them in the name of the Shadowmage.
It is worth noting that females are rare in Astomi society. due to some flaw in their original development, female Astomi are a lot more powerful and intelligent than the males. Indeed, their psychic strength is such that it takes at least 10 males to be able to even constrain their abilities. Females are always kept in Carakum, serving the Shadowmage loyally, and obtaining positions of great power. The majority of them serve in the Crimson Guard, the Shadowmage's personal guard.
When a female wishes to breed, she takes her pick of the most powerful Astom males. Should more than one qualify, the female will usually demand the males fight, both physically and mentally, for the honour of fathering her child. This fight is always to the death. When Astomi mate, the union is both physical and psychic- as such, the male very rarely survives the encounter. If conception has not occurred, another male is chosen. Assuming the mate survives, he is killed after a child is conceived, for it is considered treason for anyone to touch the female Astomi. Due to this dubious honour, male Astom are obviously reluctant to fight or mate for the female. Fortunately, the mental powers of the female are powerful enough to ensure her bidding, and the survival of the race.
The Astomi do not have a military fighting force. Whilst all serve the Shadowmage, and fight for him, they are considered too important and rare to be killed on a battlefield. Most are merely used as leaders, who watch from the backrows, or as psychic assassins and diplomats. When forced into war, the Astomi stay at the edge of the battlefield, throwing psychic bolts and destroying the minds of the enemy.
The Arim use the same currency as the rest of Daenor, though generally posess a lot more riches than the rest of the races. The females, whilst amongst the richest members of Daenor society, need no money; anything they need they are provided with. Very few members of society are willing to risk their wrath by attempting to charge them.
The Astomi are tall and lean, averaging 6'5. Males have a grey and leathery skin, whilst females have a white complexion, and a shiny, almost moist texture. Whilst humanoid in appearance, the Astomi possess no mouths. Their ability to communicate telepathically has rendered a mouth useless. Males and females alike are characteristically bald. Both sexes wear long robes, usually of various hues, and embroidered in rich jewellery and psi-enhancing amulets. Most carry ornate weapons, though their use is usually unecessary.
The Astomi have no villages of their own, instead living in citadels, or Orcish and Arim villages. When living in citadels, their rooms are usually large and richly decorated, reflecting their status. They are always served by at least two 'Kiz'ari,' slaves from lesser races whom the Astomi have psychically bonded for life (kiz'ari do not grow old, and die only when their master does, or when he chooses to eliminate them). The Kiz'ari are used as messengers, fetchers and carriers. In the case of males, a beautiful female Kiz'ari (or two) is usually used for sexual purposes, as female Astomi are genrally off-limits.
When an Astomi is forced to live in the villages and towns of lesser races, a citadel is commissioned for them. This building is usually grand and ornate, and towers over the lesser buildings in a demonstration of superiority.
The Astomi do not eat, nor do they sleep. Bred as the elite warrior, Astomi can function fine without the sleep and rations which disable other troops. All the Astom require, once a week, is the psychic thoughts of others. Placing his hand on his victims head, the Astom absorbs their psychic life-force, killing the victim. This 'feeds' the Astom and sustains him for at least a week. It is considered bad practice to 'feed' on any but the lowliest of the Shadowmage's troops. Additionally, Orcs are considered 'distasteful' to the Astomi. As such, regular Mannish and Elvish prisoners are bought to the Astomi. It is possible for an Astom to feed on another of his kind (though difficult due to the obvious resistance). The feeding Astom absorbs all the victims powers, in a sense becoming twice as powerful. This is taboo in Astomi society though, and punishable by death. Still, the old legend of Gr'ikara is still remembered; the female Astom who fed on 10 other females and attained the power of the Gods themselves. In the end, her brain couldn't cope with the thoughts and power, and her head exploded.
Astomi worship no one in particular. Whilst they respect the Death Queen as a goddess, and follow her teachings, they do not actively worship her. To the Astomi, gods are only one step up the food chain from them, and their power is achievable.
TEMPLATE: ASTOMI MALE
ADOLESCENT SKILLS (Typical Male)
Body Dev 2
Weapon 1 1
1 Lore 4
Perception: Psychic 2
1 Lore 2
1 Language 2
PP Dev 4
MIA: S. Leather 2
Psychic Detection 2
Psychic Bolt 2
Language: Daenor 8
Background Pts. 20
All Astomi males possess 2 psychic lists.
TEMPLATE: ASTOMI FEMALE
ADOLESCENT SKILLS (Typical Male)
Body Dev 3
Weapon 1 3
1 Lore 5
Perception: Psychic 5
1 Lore 3
Magic Detection 2
PP Dev 5
MIA: Chain 2
Psychic Detection 4
Psychic Bolt 4
Language: Daenor 8
Background Pts. 5
All Astomi females possess 4 psychic lists.