Introducing the skuga Picture

The Skugas (singular skuga), also known as vättar, duergar, undergrounders and The Children of Shadows, are a fascinating species which developed deep below the forests and mountains that the other races call their home. Given their complex culture and society, it would take over a hundred books and more pages than there are worms in the mud, but I will try to tell you a bit about these incredible creatures.

Appearence and physical traits: Skugas are bipedal sentient mammals, about 150 cm tall. Their skin is soft and pale, ranging in colour from bone-white to ash-gray, and they have thick hair on their heads that tends to be black, but white or gray hair is not uncommon. Their ears are large and resemble that of a rodent and they have exceptional hearing abilities. The eyes have adapted to very dark enviroments and are huge and black, giving them a staring look. Skugas can see well in dark enviroments, but they are almost colour-blind and strong and/or direct light causes them stress and physical pain.
They have no noses, but they are equiped with long, forked tongues that allows them to "smell" scents similar to some reptiles. Other species ofthen describes the smell of the skuga as "wet stones" and "moist mushrooms". Their average lifespan is around 40-47 years, but some individuals have reached an age of 73 and more. Skugas are omnivores, feeding on fungi, small mammals, fish and other things they grow in their caves, as well as goods they import. They aren't very fon of sugar, but they enjoy cheese very much for some reason. As mentioned before, sunlight hurts skugas so they prefer to only move around outdoors by night, and when they are forced to be outside by day they cover their bodies and faces for protection. Some skugas are born with mutations and gifts like claws, tails and sonar. These individuals are considered blessed by the mountain, and they often become assassins and necromancers. A few skugas are born with the Gift of Change, and these often have a bat-like creature as their Primal Form.

Culture and society: Skugas live in close-knit communities, often lead by a group of necromancers and/or an elders. Their natural habitats are dark, natural caves, wich they have continued hollowing out during hundreds of years, creating huge systems of tunnels and rooms where they grow large underground gardens filled with rare and bizarre plants and fungi. These gardens might be one of the reasons why so many of the world's most skilled surgeons and healers has been skugas. The healers have a high religious and politic status in skugan society, since they have the powers of destroying, shaping, healing or twisting a body as they want.
Some of them even know the art of reanimating corpses, a secret that they keep to themselves, since they claim that no outsiders are worthy of knowing it, and "amateurs" would only soil their art. Since skugas are pretty frail and aren't suited for heavy work, the necromancers turns the corpses of dead skugas into soul-less workers and lets them work in the mines and as servants. Most outsiders find this practice disgusting, but the skugas themselves claims that the workers souls has already left their bodies behind, and won't be needing them anymore. It would be a waste to not use them for anything practical ,and qouting a necromancer: "The living body is a work of art, beautiful in every aspect. The dead corpse is simply an empty canvas that we can use to create our own art". Most skugas do not worship gods, since skugan spirituality claims that the skugas where simply born from the deepest caves far bellow the surface of the world, and that their spirits will travel back to that place when they die. If a skuga dies outside the caves, her soul will be trapped there and will never be able to find it's way down to the caves of souls.
The traditional skugan societies rarely leave their caves or deal with outsiders and surface dwellers except when selling the ore they mined or buying things that they can't produce by themselves, but there are several skugas who live on the surface among the other races, often in ranoki towns in the darker and colder southern parts of the world where they often become popular salesmen, doctors and smiths and they are known to be kind and loyal citizens.
But as much as their healers are famous and respected, the skugan assassins are feared all over the world. Not much is known about them, but they are said to strike faster than a falling drop of water and leaving no trace behind them. There is a story about how a rich ranoki merchant refused to pay the price that the skugas demanded on a shipment of rare gems and ore. The next day he was found in his private and heavily guarded house with his throat cut open next to his wife who hadn't noticed anything at all during the night. Most skuga denies these tales and claims that they're just myth and stories. But even the bravest reptaur hunters tries to never upset a skuga, since you never know if oyu would survive it...

Sorry for the long text, I just wanted to introduce the skuga, a new fantasy species I've created. They're inspired by the Dustmen (from Planescape) and the original dwarves from norse mythology. You see, they didn't have the whole "drunken viking" image back then, they were called dark-elves and were short, ugly and couldn't stand sunlight or iron. They were awesome smith's, tought. Anyway, they do NOT belong in the DtD world, they live in the same world as the caprans, reptaurs and ranoki (the ranoki hasn't been introduced yet, but they have appeared in my gallery twice). It's inspired and based on norse myth and scandinavian folklore, combined with my own ideas and stuff. I'll probably introduce you into that world later, it doesn't even have a geography or a name yet. The name "skuga" is by the way an adaption of the Swedish word skugga, wich means shadow. They're kinda cute, aren't they? I would love to read your opinions of them, but since nobody seems to comment on my art anymore I should probably not set my hopes too high. It makes me kinda sad tought, don't you guys like me anymore? I like you guys, you know. Just so you know. It gets a big lonely here sometimes...
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