The Importance of Inclusivity in Dema
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Hi everyone! Ken here.
The intention of the differences in sexes among the sentients is to both be inclusive to gender-diverse folks and explore biological plausibilities in sentient creatures. Solar Studios firmly supports the LGBT+ community. Dema is full of many people, and in this article I’d like to take some time to discuss how sex and gender commonly present across the sentients. We encourage players to embrace the spirit of tabletop roleplaying games and create whatever kind of character they wish in order to best express themselves and experience the world of Dema in their own way. However, for the sake of canon, this is what to expect from the non-human sentients in official Redsky experiences.
Nightriders resemble humans the most, so it is fair to assume that they share physiological traits. They mostly present as “male” and “female” sexes in the same ways that humans do, with a small portion of their population being intersex. Gender expression and roles in Nightrider society vary by tribe, but they value one’s deeds and accomplishments greater than any gender they present. Any Nightrider can be a chief of a tribe as long as they prove themself as worthy of following. The legendary Vella Montura taught this lesson to her people when she became the first female leader of the Freesteeds in the early Heroic Era.
Archivists also resemble humans, and their physiological differences wouldn’t imply that their sex characteristics are much different from humans either. Their reserved culture and cold climate prevent much notable individual expression of sex or gender. Due to this, Archivists make these expressions more private and personal than the other sentients of Dema. Subtle expressions of gender and sexuality make it through the cultural expectation of modesty, mainly in how an individual wears their hair or the jewelry they choose to wear. Necklaces are common for the Archivists’ individual expression, as well as earrings and hair styling.
Featherfolk have the most dynamic forms of any expression, which carries over to their gender and sexuality. Their species exhibits a great deal of sexual dimorphism - the males are shorter and stouter with brightly colored feathers and the females are taller and more muscular with duller colored feathers. How a Featherfolk expresses their sexuality or gender identity might further be amplified by their house. Take the renowned House Poroc for example - they are well known in the Auric for their performers and playwrights, and their men accentuate the brightness of their feathers with finely ground jewel powder that sparkles in the light. Non-traditional expressions of identity are taken for granted in the Featherfolk’s Air culture, so even extreme differences from their norms are expected and celebrated.
Wakewalkers are famous for their expressiveness and nigh hedonistic Fire culture. There is very little that separates their two sexes. It is nearly impossible to distinguish the difference between male and female Wakewalkers at birth. They do not develop prominent external sex characteristics until late puberty or early adulthood. Biological males have their skin dull into one solid shade of grey or blue, and biological females develop dark stripes that stretch across the back side of their bodies. Many Wakewalkers will say that they had some sense of which sex they’d develop into before puberty, but this is not definitive for all Wakewalkers. There is little importance put on an individual’s sex beyond reproduction in Wakewalker society. It is much more up to the individual on how much importance to put on it in their own self expression.
Of all the sentients, Sporespawn are the most alien and the most different from what we would expect biologically and socially. They originated from an all consuming hive mind that erased their individuality to better serve the greater whole of the Overmind. Furthermore, Sporespawn are fungal beings, not mammals - they lack the meaningful differences between sexes that one would normally expect. Like many fungi, they reproduce via spores and also have a larval stage like many insects before they emerge as an adult Sporespawn. Sporespawn don’t have gender and use the singular “they” pronoun in Mundane. Many identify with their “form”, which corresponds to a task or profession that they or their ancestors performed in the Overmind’s/Tohol’s swarm. While this is not the same as gender in the real world, some Sporespawn might see it that way. Additionally, Sporespawn do not have sexualities that we would understand because their sexes and reproduction are so different from real world vertebrates. How a free-minded Sporespawn views it is likely to be very personal and leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
The sentients of Dema are intended to be grounded in known biology - they’ve all had some degree of genetic interference by the Overseers before they are released into the World Ship's interior. We’ve drawn on many real life creatures (and fungi) to make the foundations of the characters you all will play, but ultimately it will be up to you to decide which factors of your character’s biology and cultures you lean into. Whatever you choose, have fun with it! Adventurers tend to be the most extraordinary people of their society, cutting against the grain is a part of their nature.
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