Shadowrun: Throw Back
The archetypical stocky, barrel-chestred, and bearded common
dwarf is the most predominant of all pumillonis variants, and
finds easy acceptance in most contemporary societies thanks to its
non-excessively egregious appearance and non-threatening stature.
Dwarfs are present on all continents and among almost all ethnic
groups (with a few notable exceptions).
Imminently social and gregarious beings, sociological studies
show that dwarfs face the least obstacles in social insertion of all
the metatypes aside from humans. Strangely, the same cannot be
said for its known metavariants, who are frequently more penalized
as their metatrait expression tends to be more extreme and
glaring. Physiologically, dwarf metavariants show a high variability,
but the diminished stature, extensive body and facial hair, robustness,
and extended life expectancy that characterize the metatype
are consistent in most of the metavariants.
Note that several pro-metahuman groups, such as Mother
of Metahumans (MOM), have flagged intra-metatype racism as a
potential problem and cause of conflict since a significant number
of baseline dwarfs view their distant cousins as freaks.
Japanese dwarfs, known as koborokuru or koro-pok-guru (literally
“people under the leaves of the butterbur plant”) are named
after underworld dwellers of Ainu mythology.
Koborokuru are the prevalent dwarf species on the Japanese
Isles (>85%), and they stand slightly shorter than common dwarfs
and possess extensive body hair. Less stout than their Western
counterparts, they are quite agile, seemingly more flexible, and
comfortable with their compact builds and short legs when in motion.
Despite the outward differences, they possess many common
metatraits with common dwarfs: heat sensitive vision, short stature,
stocky build, slightly pointed ears and extended longevity.
Tragically, though the Ainu (one of the indigenous peoples of
the Japanese archipelago) respect koborokuru as embodied kamuy
(spirits) of the mountains, the fact remains that this metavariant
has been subject to both ethnic and anti-metahuman persecution
by the dominant Japanese culture for decades. Entire generations
were raised in effective exile, growing up in terrible living conditions.
While huge steps have been made in the past decade to right this
injustice, today’s koborokuru remain understandably clannish and
self-reliant. They tend to live in familial groups and in metahuman
neighborhoods, a situation fostered by persistent racism literally
looking down on koborokuru as inferior and primitive beings.
Koborokuru are relatively rare outside of Japan, but they have
been encountered among large ethnic Japanese communities abroad.
Menehune (pronounced meh-ne-HOO-neh) or “Children of
the Land” are named for the original “little people” of Hawai’ian
mythology. They are, however, not simply native to the Hawai’i
islands, but the dominant dwarf species in Transoceania (including
Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia). Possibly due to a strong
presence of Japanese stock in Hawai’i, the second most common
dwarf species is the koborokuru.
Physically, Menehune are almost the same size as baseline pumillonis,
but possess luxurious body hair, large blunt noses, bushy
eyebrows, stringy hair, and thick, wiry muscles. As one would expect
of island natives, they are well-adapted to their ocean-locked
environments. Additionally, menehune boast eyes able to focus
underwater, granting them perfect vision when diving. This is possible
thanks to a nictitating membrane, that is vestigial in other
homo sapiens species.
Menehune are well-integrated and very social. As a group,
they actively participated in the Hawai’ian independence movement
and are afforded all the respect and privileges of a native
Hawai’ian in the archipelago. Racism and bigotry among native
Hawai’ian’s of any metatype is rare, though occasional problems
arise with foreigners.
According to Hawai’ian folklore, the mehehune’s ancestors
came from the lost continent of Mu, which is speculated to have
existed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Gnomes originate from Central Europe and Asia Minor,
though even in these areas they are a minority among dwarf
populations. Whether this is due to gene pool dilution, or because
gnomes are a relatively recent addition to the local anthroposhere
Gnomes are distinguished from other dwarfs by little body
hair (no beards and pubic hair) and small, childlike physiques
(heights range from 70 cm to 100 cm, with body mass typically
two thirds of a common dwarf ’s). Their petite physiques mean
hands and fingers are proportionately smaller which proves a significant
handicap in modern urban environments designed with
metahumans averages in mind. Despite this, gnomes are highly
sociable and appear to take discrimination due to size in stride.
Furthermore, surveys conducted post-Crash indicate that gnomes
have benefited immensely from the advances in wireless networking
and computing. The new technologies have empowered them
by enabling greater freedom in conducting their normal lives (via
commlinks, agents, and autopilot-driven vehicles).
Charles University of Prague has also recently produced some
facts to back the traditional belief that gnomes possess some form of natural immunity to magic and sorcery. Clinical tests suggest
that, while not totally immune, gnomes have proven to be more
resistant to the effects of magic. Studies and testing into the root
mechanism are ongoing and little is currently understood about
Native to the Indian subcontinent, harumen are a monkeylike
local dwarf metavariant. While occurrences of this particular
metavariant date back almost to the Awakening, they often occurred
in undeveloped and backwater areas of the subcontinent
and were mistakenly identified as a type of sapient paracritter—
and more recently as a changeling expression. Recent genetic
mapping at Chennai University, however, offered incontrovertible
evidence that this is in fact a subspecies of dwarf apparently originating
from the southern reaches of the subcontinent.
Less stocky and barrel-chested than the typical dwarf, harumen
are far more agile and nimble than other pumillonis variants
and possess slightly elongated limbs. Named for their resemblance
to the ape god Hanuman, harumen also boast flattened noses, prehensile
tails, and elongated feet and toes developed for climbing.
While both tail and legs are profusely haired, the rest of their body
(including the face) is not.
Harumen enjoy a mixed reputation in the Union and neighboring
countries. While their association with the popular deity
Hanuman grants them a certain respect and reverence from the
common Hindu, they are just as often seen as troublemakers,
thrillseekers, and wildmen (as far as our studies suggest, unjustifiably
so). Their peculiar metatraits have also sparked a heated
debate among Hindus about the haruman’s place in the Wheel
of Life and the rigid Hindu caste system. This relegates many to
a social no-man’s land which they seek to escape by emigrating
outside the Union.
Harumen are a minority variant even in India, where the
dominant form is the basic metatype.
Section: Choose Your Metatype
Chapter: Creating a ShadowRunner