Although the lizardmen hold unquestioned primacy over the continent of Blantyrre, they are not alone there, or even free of rivals. Their presence is strong on the coast, and along river valleys, and only growing stronger due to the influx of human technology and magic, but Blantyrre is still a very large continent with a sizeable interior and a diverse set of environments.
For instance, it is well known that Blantyrre and its surrounding islands are home to a great many dragons. Although rising in strength and sophistication, the lizardmen have never been able to seriously threaten dragon territories, and the dragons remain just as influential there as they always have been. Some of the more naïve humans assume that since both lizardmen and dragons are reptilian in nature, they must get along better than humans and dragons, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in the slightest. Lizardmen cities and settlements often get raided and attacked by marauding dragons, and so lizardmen hold little love for dragons.
There are rumors of a smaller lizardman species living in the surface layers of the underworld in Blantyrre, but it is hard to tell what connection it has to the more common lizardmen. It could be a simple variant of the species, like morlocks are to humans, or it could be a completely different reptilian species. They seem to be quite rare, as no expedition has managed to find hard evidence of their existence, but stories of them are common among the lizardmen that they are probably not just an idle fabrication.
Aside from that, this article will discuss the three most important sapient species on the continent, other than the lizardmen themselves: Murgur, Mlok, and Nantek.
Murgur are curious blue-skinned humanoids with an elephantine trunk on their face. Their skin is hairless, much like that of a human, and they have a similar body build to them as well. Their eyes are pitch black, covered in some kind of protective film that shields them from bright light and dust, and they have a long, thin tail that ends in a tuft of hair. The tail is usually very active and expressive, even when the murgur is standing still, and likely has some role in their communication. They are clearly mammals of some sort, but it’s unclear where they fit into the tree of life. They do not have any innate magical ability.
Murgur do not speak words like humans do. Instead, they speak in a deep, vibrating mumble that most humans find hard to understand. The name ‘Murgur’ is reportedly an onomatopoeia for the sound they use to refer to themselves, and translates to ‘Splendid Ones’.
Murgur live exclusively in the mountains, where they build sprawling, elaborate mountain strongholds. These are partially carved straight into cliffs and mountain faces, and partially made by very precise stonework that borders on supernatural, but is apparently done with little to no magic involved. Murgur are masters of sculpting and stone working, and seem to consider their mountain homes and the rocks around them sacred in some way. They don’t bother trying to expand out of the mountains and into the lowlands below, even when they have the chance to do so.
Murgur do not eat meat and find offers of animal flesh to be very insulting, but they are also not entirely herbivorous. They have been observed to eat eggs, drink milk, and consume certain insect larvae. They engage in extensive farming to feed their strongholds, and also hunt in the surrounding mountains for things they cannot grow.
Murgur have a complicated set of rules revolving around politeness and proper manners. They rarely explain these to outsiders, but often get upset when these are broken anyway. This probably contributes greatly to their isolationism and distaste for outsiders. Even murgur from other strongholds are not immune to this, as each strongholds has its own aesthetics and social rules.
Although Murgur architecture is highly impressive, they are a rather primitive people, all things considered. They have no knowledge of metal working, relying on stone and wooden tools instead. They are highly isolationist and conceited, and consider most outsiders to be uncivilized savages. Previously they were on par with the lizardmen in terms of magic and technology, but their lack of easily accessible ports, coupled with deliberate isolationism, has meant they are now noticeably behind them in both regards, and the situation is only getting worse. Murgur strongholds are increasingly getting the short end of the stick in their dealings with lizardmen and their societies are experiencing large upheaval as a result.
Mlok are basically sapient tree frogs with more dexterous hands. They are excellent climbers and swimmers, and their skin can change color over a period of several minutes, either to match their environment more closely or simply as an indication of mood.
Mlok are tribal and very primitive technologically. They live in small tree villages, making use of a special parasitic plant that naturally forms hollow chambers for Mlok to live in as it grows. The plant does not exist in the wild outside Mlok settlements, being entirely reliant on the Mlok for protection and spread. It is likely the two species evolved side-by-side during a very long period of time. The plant is mildly magical, being slightly tougher than a plant like this should be, and some tribes have special variants with additional powers.
Being frogs, Mlok require water to house their tadpoles and reproduce. As such, they fill some of the hollow chamber in their symbiotic plants with water for their tadpoles to live in. Because of this, they can live quite far from the rivers and lakes, so long as the place they inhabit gets enough seasonal rains to maintain their reservoirs. They actually prefer these water pockets as their nurseries, as the tadpoles are relatively safe there from predators, and will use them even if they live next to a more conventional water source.
Mlok are very notorious among the lizardmen for birthing large number of young during times of plenty, which often creates many desperate mlok when said times of plenty pass. Mlok tribes tend to simply expel any excess population and tell them to find a new territory for themselves, which is viewed by lizardmen (and most other nearby sapient species) as irresponsible and borderline hostile. Occasionally these groups of outcast Mlok have formed huge hordes that have swept across an area, eating everything edible and sieging any settlement or tribe they come across. Due to this, mlok tend to have a rather poor reputation.
Mlok are obligate carnivores, and can digest a wide variety of prey; they are willing to consume just about anything within reach. They normally shy away from consuming intelligent prey, but they have poor self-control and a starving mlok will often do things they are not proud of.
Like the murgur, mlok have been getting pushed back by the lizardmen lately. This is especially true because mlok like similar areas that lizardmen do, meaning they often compete for living space. Additionally, while the lizardmen somewhat respect the murgur and have only rarely clashed with them in the past, mlok are seen as disgusting savages that breed far too fast and have been known to create trouble for lizardmen since time immemorial.
Mlok have a decent amount of contact with humans, but their sensitive skin and tree-borne lifestyle make it hard to adopt the sort of lifestyle necessary to make use of human technology and magic-teaching methods. They are a very dynamic species, however, and not afraid to change, so things could easily change in the future.
Nantek are a strange type of large butterfly that are sapient in their chrysalis stage… and only in their chrysalis stage. Said chrysalises are psychic, and use telepathy to control caterpillars of their own species as workers and warriors. A number of them are also able to telekinetically move about and manipulate objects, but this appears to be a product of magical training and is not an inborn skill of the species. Usually when a Nantek wants to move, they have their caterpillar servants carry them around.
Nantek chrysalises are brown, with a complicated pattern of colors and pair of large ‘eyes’ painted on the sides. The eyes are non-functional – Nantek can only perceive the world through their caterpillar servants – and appear to be purely cosmetic in nature. Despite this, Nantek will usually try to orient their chrysalis to ‘face’ whoever they’re speaking to. The caterpillars themselves come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes, for reasons that will become obvious later.
Nantek are a very mysterious species. They live deep in the interior of Blantyrre, and while they’re happy to entertain non-violent visitors, their societies are alien and hard for other species to understand. They are one of the more magically-adept species encountered by humanity – the relative helplessness of their natural forms has caused them to focus on magic more than most, and the need to work together leads to a lot of sharing of magical insight between them. This, in addition to their innate mental magic, means that they are able to engage human mages on a more even level than most non-human communities, and has made them somewhat feared among human explorers.
Nantek also have a strangely advanced knowledge of their own biochemistry and lifecycle, and often warp their caterpillar workers into specialized worker forms to tackle difficult problems. This ability does not seem to extend to other living organisms – their own catepillars are naturally susceptible to these kinds of alterations, and magic that works on them does not work on unrelated beings. However, there is ample evidence that Nantek are heavily experimenting on various beings around them anyway, trying to use their flesh alterations to manipulate their metabolism in the same way they do with their catepillars… often with horrifying results. Some of these experiments have been known to escape into the surrounding area, making the land around the Nantek hive prone to ‘isolated incidents’.
Because of their great magical abilities and relatively benign nature, they have long been considered wise and mysterious by the other races of the continent, who would often brave many dangers to reach their homes in the interior so they could consult them for advice on various matters. More cynical observers point out that was probably very beneficial for the Nantek, since they probably used their mind reading skills to get way more out of these conversations than the visitors did.
Despite their impressive achievements, the Nantek labor under many issues. For one thing, they suffer from the same problem that most non-human sapients do: they do not work together very well. While the Nantek work very closely and harmoniously within their own communities, different Nantek hives don’t seem to communicate much with one another. In fact, there is evidence that some of the hives are actively hostile to one another, even when they are physically very far from one another and they should realistically not care much about each other either way. Secondly, Nantek have rather short lives by human standards. After about 30 years as a chrysalis, a Nantek will become insensate and soon morph into a large butterfly.
As stated before, Nantek are only sapient in their chrysalis forms, so this transformation basically kills the nantek in question. There is no evidence that the resulting butterfly retains any kind of memory or personality from the chrysalis mind that made it. They are animal-level magical creatures, only interested in eating and mating.
Nantek simply let them live out their lives as they see fit. A female butterfly, when ready to lay eggs, will return to the place of her ‘birth’ and lay her eggs in the specially prepared chamber dug up by the Nantek. This seems to be part instinct, part the fact that Nantek know exactly how to prepare a chamber that the female regards as perfect for her eggs. On occasion, this process has been known to be disrupted, leading to the eggs being deposited elsewhere. Nantek hives will usually try to recover these and bring them into their settlement.
Nantek hives are not complicated. Although very sophisticated in many ways, Nantek are not particularly inspired builders. The hive is typically built underground, consisting of a series of tunnels and chambers. Each settlement has one major chamber, large and typically circular in shape, where Nantek spend most of their day embedded into the wall of the chamber. The chamber is usually warded as best as the Nantek can manage it, and tends to be deep underground. Outsiders are rarely granted entry to this chamber, as it holds the majority of the Nantek colony, and Nantek are not especially mobile and cannot flee quickly if the talks turn violent, but it has been known to happen. The chamber appears silent and eerily still to a casual observer, but Nantek are actually constantly chattering with one another telepathically and a skilled mind mage will find it to be a constant flurry of activity.
Nantek are very aware of how short their lives are, and how unusual they are by the standards of most creatures. They are a very philosophical people, and ponder the nature of their existence often. As a consequence of this, as well as their rather cloistered existence, their language has a great number of terms that do not exist outside their communities, and often refer to highly abstract concepts that do not refer to easily explainable physical concepts. They usually try to minimize these when talking to other sapient species, but it is inevitable that some of that bleeds through. As such, their speech patterns are often perceived as confusing, and this likely contributes to their reputation for being mysterious.