High in the secluded reaches of the Chakran Mountains dwell the kelden - a race of people unlike any other in Audalis. Discovered first by a party of elves on their tri-annual search for griffons, the kelden remain shy and unobtrusive, and outsiders rarely see them.
Kelden are tall and fairly thin, with very lightly tanned skin; males stand an average of seven to seven and one half feet tall (with females a few inches shorter). Their faces are long, and the hair of both genders (typically brown) only grows to the length of an inch or so.
What makes the kelden so unique among the races is the fact they have large, leathery wings that allow them to glide through the air. Actually flying is very tiring for the kelden, but with proper air currents, they can glide for long periods at a time.
Kelden wear very little in the way of clothing, which is a difficult habit to break for those that venture into "civilized" lands. Often, little more than a leather loincloth is all that is worn by members of either gender. In winter, this is supplemented by various animal pelts, though no preference is given to any particular species.
Culture and Society
There are several small tribes of kelden scattered among the remote reaches of the Chakrans. These tribes consist of a few extended families, and the various tribes often have little contact with each other. Kelden usually live in caves high in the side of a mountain, which makes their homes both difficult to find and easy to defend.
Kelden are hunter/gatherers, with males and females splitting the daily responsibilities. Males usually shoulder the responsibilities of hunting and protecting the cave, while females handle gathering of foood, raising the young, etc. However, these rules are not hard and fast, and it is not uncommon to see the roles shared or reversed.
Kelden have no alphabet, and use pictures as their only form of writiten communication. In addition, their language is vastly different from those of most other humaniods, and consists of a wide variety of whistles and chirps. These factors combine to make learning "normal" languages difficult, and magical spellcasting very near impossible.
All kelden tribes do have at least one shaman, occasionally two or three. These primitive priests normally worship nature or the sun, though not in the same manner as other races might. These spiritual leaders serve important roles in kelden society, and are treated with greast respect and deference. Often, the chief shaman is the only member of the tribe (aside from children) not expected to provide his own food.
Trade and Commerce
Kelden are, overall, very primitive when it comes to trading. Since most families are self sufficient, very little trading is done; virtually all of that is handled by simple barter.
However, in the past few decades, kelden have come to see the value of metal weapons and the like - items which they cannot make themselves. Therefore, a few have begun trading with the occasional visitors from the outside world. Interestingly, kelden seem to have a knack for trading, despite the alienness of the concept; most who deal with them consider them to be shrewd, and kelden who choose to live in "civilized" society tend to be successful.
Values and Taboos
Kelden think in terms of their tribe, and all decisions are made based upon this philosophy. While each member is expected to be self-sufficient, if one falls ill or is injured, the tribe will care for them and will shoulder their share of the responsibilities. Likewise, every member of a kelden tribe will battle ferociously for the good of the whole. Duties that involve the common good of all (sentry duty, etc) are shared fairly.
Outsiders are viewed with suspicion, but only with hostility if they prove to be deserving of it. However, kelden will usually study any visitors for a time before they allow themselves to be seen.
Most kelden are quite content to live out their lives in the mountains, caring only for day to day survival. However, there are a few who choose to leave and see the world. This is their choice, but it is rare for a kelden who leaves to be allowed back into the tribe - they are normally viewed as dead, and treated like outsiders if they attempt to return.
As they have no written alphabet, all kelden history is verbally passed down from generation to generation. The shaman is usually charged with this responsibility, though a tribe's elders often keep a large portion of lore themselves.
Kelden are rare in society; therefore, your DM may or may not allow you to play one in a campaign.
Kelden receive +1 to their constitution scores, but suffer a -2 to charisma. In addition, kelden are not normally allowed to belong to any character class that uses magc without special permission from the DM.
Thanks to Olan Suddeth for this contribution!