(Previous installments: [1. Things I'll probably screw up] [2. Dwarves!] [3. Elves!] [4. Giants!]) The Spirefolk are one of the two races that I haven't, so far, come up with a more traditional fantasy parallel for, the other being the islandfolk of the southern continents. What I really want to find is some well-established fusion between humans and birds -- because, according to the mainstream lore, spirefolk can fly.
In actual fact, flight is a relatively uncommon hobby among the spirefolk -- while a reasonably large number will try it out (somewhere around 40% of an average city's population) only a very small minority actually pursue it to the point where they can fly at will, or safely dive off of one of the many spires of their villages and cities.
They live on the western edge of this peninsula, the side that's not a big chunk of desert -- though, thinking about it, there's no way there aren't also a bunch living along that river on the eastern half. Their cities are tall and jagged, using magical architectural techniques to keep them from toppling over despite being tall even by real-world, 21st-century standards.
Flight and architecture are the major practical applications of magic in the spirefolk civilization, the rest of their magical energy mainly focused on more esoteric investigations. By the modern day of the setting, this means that their cities are world centers for magic-tech innovation, but historically, they lag behind the islandfolk in most practical technology. This is because (as I'll address in more detail in another post) islandfolk are merchants, and later imperialists, who rely on a large amount of land and complex relationships to survive.
The peninsula on which the spirefolk live, on the other hand, is extremely hospitable -- it takes relatively little growing and shelter magic to make it paradise-like. As a consequence, the civilization ran out of things for people to do pretty quickly, and developed a serious monastic culture, basically to get extra people out of the way and busy so they won't cause trouble.
The spirefolk civilization are going to be the ones who get first claim to the six gods I came up with when I first started developing this setting, for my D&D game. There will be more gods, and other kinds of gods, and the spirefolk will have other gods, as well as their gods interacting with other cultures (especially Marlison, who likes the trolls).
These gods are, roughly: Arathaniel, the god* of light and travel (also fond of elves), Marlison, the god of arcana, the strange, and the sea (fond of trolls), Lucolas, the god of self-understanding (sometimes) and the god of thievery (other times), Denia, the god of death and natural order, Harrictor, the god of combat, respect, and civil order, and Loulerie, the god of virtue, nobility, and justice.
*I'm using god as a gender-neutral descriptor -- some tend towards one side or the other, but none of the gods are uniformly gendered throughout their lore.
Temples and monasteries exist to all six, as well as some other, minor gods, but the best-attended schools are those for Arathaniel (which produces a lot of travelling monks), Lucolas (which tends to produce people who stay in the monestary and keep studying, although sometimes people leave and become difficult to keep track of), and Loulerie (which is where the nobility send their children to learn how to be nobility).
I've mentioned every time so far that the different groups within each culture vary a lot, but actually, the spirefolk cultures are all really close together, and through the traveling monks of Arathaniel engage in a lot of communication between each other, so the differences are smaller -- nowhere on this peninsula is there so great a cultural gulf as, for example, in Greece, between Athens and Sparta.
I'm thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year! If you're not already aware, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place in November. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel within the month. Regular readers probably know that I've been under a lot of stress lately, so I'm not making the commitment yet. I need to be sure that I can afford to spend the energy and time. But if my life steadies enough by November, I think I'm going to go for it, with a Lord of the Rings style exploration story of my setting. (I may as well get the LoTR ripoff out of the way as soon as possible.)