Dassens are a race of dragon-people from the Das Islands. They are not considered draconic, as they are too far removed from actual dragons, but are believed to be descended from zokex who marvelled ancient nurlak and shapeshifted to become like them.
They are an energetic people with lots of stamina, due to their environment, and are considered fantastic flyers.
Though they share some physical similarities with bats and are sometimes referred to as “bat-people”, they are not related to these animals in any way and have terrible night-vision.
Av. Height (Male): 6’2”
Av. Height (Female): 5’7”
Dassens are one of the taller humanoid races. They are also very slender, giving them a skeletal appearance that many other Sentients find unnerving.
Dassens are one of the few land-dwelling Sentients to not have body hair or feathers. Instead, they have smooth skin with scales and birthmarks.
The birthmarks found across dassens’ bodies are different depending on the family and often combine in unique ways when different bloodlines mix.
Alongside their birthmarks they also have scale patterns. This is especially common on their genitalia, shoulders, and between their wings on their upper back. Scales are usually a matte texture, though many dassens will attempt to shine them.
Dassen wings attach under the shoulder blades and have a membrane along their lower back to their hips.
Dassens people have lots of blood vessels and veins in their wings. They flap their wings to cool them down on hot days and bring them close to their bodies when it’s cold.
An injury to the wing of a dassen can be crippling, if not fatal. Small tears in the membrane can cause issues with flying if not treated immediately, and larger injuries can cause a dassen to lose a fatal amount of blood very quickly.
A dassen’s horns can grow in a variety of ways. The most common is symmetrical, mid-length horns with a slight curve that grow directly below the hairline near the forehead. This is not the only way they can grow, however; some dassens have asymmetrical horns, while some have horns along their jawline.
There are no restrictions to a dassen’s colourations; their eyes, scales, hair, and skin can be any number of colours or shades. However, they tend to have one main colour that tints their skin, hair, and scales, no matter how many other colours they have in their patterning.
Their colours can be inherited in two different ways; children can either inherit their parent’s colouration as it is, or the colours of their parents can mix. So a yellow and a blue dassen may produce either a yellow, blue, or green child.
Dassens have long, sharp teeth with four prominent fangs (two on top, two on bottom). The fangs of a dassen are hollow, and on inspection, underdeveloped venom glands can be found similar to those in the zokex.
The tongue of a dassen is long and forked and sensitive to toxins. They use it as an alternative way to smell, and it is how they determine if food is edible or if water is contaminated.
They can also smell sicknesses before physical symptoms start to manifest.
Dassens often do not care about the pronouns or sexuality of those in their settlements; because their culture revolves around finding family from different settlements they are very open to differences in culture and personal identity. Because of this, the social differences between men and women are minimal, and the biggest differences are determined by their biological sex.
Female dassens are more likely to have scales on their genitals and on their chest, between or covering their breasts; while males have more scales on their backs and faces.
In order to make giving birth easier, females tend to be thicker and shorter— more compact than the males, who hold less weight.
Dassen men have arrow-shaped penises that curl between their legs rather than shrinking into a sheath. Because of this they have strong, protective scales on the top and leading up to their stomach, to help protect the sensitive organ. They do not have visible testicles on the outside, and instead their internal layout is very similar to a woman’s ovaries. Because of this their semen is very resilient and can survive up to an hour outside the body before dying.
Generally, women have scales over the top of their vaginas and up their stomach. Unlike men, the scales tend to go down the thighs in a thick layer that rubs together and becomes shiny.
Unlike most Sentients, dassen women have an organ that stores and keeps sperm alive inside of them for up to a week. This, combined with dassen sperm’s hardy nature, makes accidental conception extremely common.
The breasts of a dassen tend not to be very large, unless the dassen is overweight.
Sometimes, though not often, scales will form over the nipples. This often indicates infertility. Dassen women who have no nipples and have children do not lactate and have to find substitutes for feeding their children (usually another dassen will share their milk to prevent stunted development).
The dassens from the mainland are small, fragile, and quick. They have three large fingers on their wings, and one smaller finger. They have an extra membrane leading from the shoulder of the wing to their thumb, and another from the thumb to the smaller finger.
The 4th finger is regressing back to the size of a normal finger as they do not fly often and the extra finger creates an encumbrance on land.
The unneeded membranes are often removed after birth to prevent tearing (especially the membranes that attach to the smaller finger). This can affect long-distance flight, but it is not usually an issue for mainlanders due to their lifestyle; mainland dassens mostly use their wings to escape quickly up trees and scale steep surfaces instead of true flight. Some mainlanders are unable to fly entirely, as their wings are just too small.
Another group of dassens from the mainlands they share most traits with the mainlanders. However, the small regressing finger on the wing has become so small it is like a second thumb and is completely useless. Tri-fingered dassens are most common on the central Das island and rarely leave due to struggling with the long-distance flight required to reach neighbouring islands.
Island dassens are muscular and heavy. They have four large fingers on their wings, and no extra membranes. Dassens from the islands can fly for long distances and their wings are extremely large. The reason for this is they have to fly long distances during migrations between islands and need a lot of power to fight the winds over the ocean.
They cannot take off while running because their wings are too large. It overbalances them and they topple over. Their wings also get in the way of everyday activities.
They are generally slow-moving but can charge with surprising speed and strength when threatened.
The long-wingers are descended from the island dassens. Their wing membrane goes down their legs, all the way to the back of their knees. They come from the Rendi kingdom Kel’di and are not native to the Das islands.
They have amazing flight capabilities and can survive at extremely high altitudes. This leaves them perfectly adapted for their homes in Kel’di’s magical floating landscape where, unlike in Das, they are unable to stop and rest while travelling between islands.
Deformities and Disabilities
Smallwings / Baby-Wings
Smallwings, sometimes known as Baby-Wings, is the name given to stunted growth of the wings. It doesn’t always stop flight (especially in islanders) but it makes flight much more difficult.
This issue is also prominent in the zokex and is believed to be inherited from their ancestors.
Rarely, dassens horns will not grow in during puberty. This doesn’t affect them in many negative ways, physically, but it can lead to social issues.
Because dassens wait until their horns grow in to leave their families, many no horns will stay with their parents for too long and have difficulty joining established settlements with members their own age. This has lead to many no horns becoming loners and being forced to leave Das due to difficulty defending themselves against the jungle’s dangers.
Found in less than 0.5% of the dassen population, split dassens are most often born when an islander and a mainlander have children. They are split down the middle with their parents’ colours and birthmark patterns. Often their wings will be different sizes and they will be unable to fly.
Some dassens have spines down their backs. These spines are made from the same bone as their horns and come with puberty. The spines are a recessive mainlander gene that has spread to islanders, and there is no way to predict if a child will have spines until they start growing.
Children with these spines usually have back troubles in later life, but are considered extremely attractive.
Relationships and Life-Cycle
Dassens tend to have one lifelong relationship with a single partner. These relationships tend to form during their introduction to a settlement, and most dassens will pair-off as the settlement becomes established.
They do not deal well being separated from their partners and can become lethargic, sickly, and even die when separated for too long. Upon the death of a partner, most will not take another.
If a dassen falls in love with a dassen from another settlement, the most common resolution to this is the settlements merging and sharing their land and resources. Another way, if the settlements are too far apart to merge, is for one of the dassens to move to live with their partner’s family. Sometimes, however, it has started wars.
Every 8 weeks, female dassens’ scales change colour slightly to indicate they’re in the most fertile stage of their reproductive cycle. Their scales “blush” iridescent, instead of their regular matte, for 3-5 days.
Blushing doesn’t change the behaviour of the female. However, other dassens (especially their partner) will be drawn to them during their cycle. This is not necessarily in a sexual way; most describe it as an urge to care for the blusher until they are through their cycle.
If a dassen conceives during their cycle, their pregnancy will last about 8 months. If conceiving during any other time, 9 months is the average. Nobody is sure why there is a difference in gestation depending on the time of conception.
Most dassens will have one child per pregnancy, but twins are not uncommon in islanders.
When dassens are born, they have a thin, sticky membrane covering their entire body; this needs to be washed immediately after the birth or the child may suffocate in it. The membrane holds the wings close to the body to stop them coming loose during birth and injuring the mother.
Dassens are born physically needy, but their mental development is above average and they are able to begin using small sentences at about 10 months.
Their fast development is thanks to the nutritious nature of a dassen’s breast milk; substitutes for milk may stunt the growth of a dassen and slow their development.
Most mothers will breastfeed their children for anywhere between 2 and 4 eclipses, though some have been known to breastfeed sickly children for longer.
Young dassens start eating solid foods around 1 eclipse, alongside their breastfeeding. Most of these foods will be things high in fibre, such as fruit, with most of their protein coming from their mothers.
Puberty for dassens is a sign of big changes; their horns grow in, more scales start to cover their bodies, and they have major growth spurts that often leave them with stretch marks and gangly features.
The growth of the horns is a very painful, itchy process that has been likened to the appearance of a human’s wisdom teeth. At first, the skin along the forehead will stretch as the horns begin to form from the skull. Eventually, the skin thins enough for the stubs of bone to break through; this is usually a very bloody process that risks infection if the wounds are not cared for properly. In order to relieve the pressure from their new stubs, dassens will scratch their forming horns against trees and rocks. Without trees or rocks to scratch on, a dassen risks their horns growing uneven.
The size of a dassen’s horns are important; larger horns are considered an indicator of strength, and so are considered more attractive.
After a dassen’s horns have broken through the skin, they are considered an adult; and although they are far from fully grown they have the urge to leave their parents and form their own pack of dassens their own age.
Dassen females will start having their cycle after their horns begin to grow in, and often their cycles will indicate puberty before their horns are large enough to show as indents on the head. For males, waiting until their horns are visible is the only way to tell when puberty has begun. Usually, dassens will start puberty around 10-13 eclipses.
Most dassens have their first child around 16-18, after settling into their new home with their partner, and will have a second child 2-3 years after. They may have anywhere between 4 and 20 children, depending on the individual and how much support they receive from their settlement.
• Dassen lifespans average 60 eclipses. However, this average is brought down dramatically by deaths caused by injury or illness. Dassens have been known to live healthy lives into their 90s, and some in Rendi have lived to be 120+.
• There is a 2% miscarriage rate in Das, a 6% miscarriage rate in Rendi, and a 12% miscarriage rate in other countries.
• There is an extremely low chance that a dassen may lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. This is more common with half-dassens, and there are only 2 pure dassens known who this has happened to. This is believed to be left over from their zokex ancestry.
• Dassens believe it is good luck to be born at night and a night-birth will make the child live longer.
Dassens are one of the smallest creatures found on Das. Only lizards, rodents, and some species of insects are smaller; though not by much. Their islands are ruled by megafauna and because of this dassens have had to adapt to their dangerous surroundings.
Despite their size dassens are still considered one of the top predators of Das. This is due to their group cooperation and patience; a group of dassens can take down anything if they put their mind to it.
When a young dassens’ horns start to grow in, they leave their family to join a new settlement filled with others their own age. Some dassens wait a few years after their horns begin growing before leaving with their friends or siblings from their birth-settlement.
When forming settlements, it is not uncommon to find elders from old, diminishing settlements that are unable to care for themselves properly. It is considered an honour to take elders into a new settlement, as the elders have experience they can pass down to the young, and in turn they receive the care they need to survive.
It is not difficult to tell when an area is inhabited by dassens; adolescents and elders alike enjoy scratching their horns against trees and rocks and use this as a way to mark their borders.
New borders are easy to separate from the scratches of older settlements. Older borders have deeper marks, the grooves being marked again and again, while newer settlements have less uniform scratches as the youngsters try and figure out how to mark their borders properly. This makes it easier for dassens seeking new settlements to find homes.
Because of the tradition of leaving home at a young age, there are hundreds of abandoned dassen villages found across Das, and structures are built to only last a generation or two. Sometimes dassens will move into an old settlement and fix up any remaining buildings; though it is more common to simply pull down anything old and rebuild from scratch, ensuring the strength of the new structures.
Traditionally, dassens have small hutlike houses they use to store their property and sleep in during rains. These houses can either be built on the ground or in the trees; depending entirely on the dassen who builds it. The houses will usually have two doors; one in the roof that opens into the canopy, and one in the front that will open onto solid ground, a balcony, or a ladder.
Although they have houses, most dassens prefer to sleep in hammocks suspended above their houses in the very tops of the trees; where they can view the skies through the foliage overhead.
Occasionally, dassens will live on a beach instead of the inner-island. These dassens will gravitate towards cliffside caves for homes; sleeping in nests on the rocks that jut out or suspending their hammocks between stalactites. Though not as comfortable as treetop houses, these caves are generally safer from predators.
A normal dassen settlement can have anywhere between 40 and 100 dassens, though some older settlements have been known to merge into colonies with upwards of 300 members. Groups of dassens smaller than 40 usually find it difficult to survive and will travel and seek out other groups to merge with.
Despite the large size of some settlements, it is rare for a dassen to not know everyone in their community by name. Their settlements are like family; the bonds between members of a settlement that has formed over time are usually stronger than those of dassens born into settlements. Secrets are rare among members of the same settlement, and crime is even rarer.
Different dassen settlements don’t often talk amongst each other, even if they get along, and will generally only meet along their borders in order to trade. Trades are often a collaborative effort for services and items, such as giving the meat and bones of a deer and in return having its skin pressed into leather to use for clothing.
Because dassens leave their families every generation, they have no use for last names, and instead will often go by their settlement’s name (e.g, Sasila from the West Island Settlement) or profession (e.g, hunter Galisanti) if they need to differentiate between people with the same name.
Dassen communication is very quiet and relies a lot on body language.
Their accents are so quiet they sound like they are whispering. This is believed to have come from their dangerous environment, as being too loud can put them in danger.
They are, however, able to yell very loud. Their warning calls can be heard from over 5 kilometres away, and have been known to disturb sensitive-eared predators.
Most dassens will hold their wings tightly behind their back when trying to be polite, and spread them wide when angry to make themselves seem bigger and more intimidating.
The flapping of wings has also become a sign of discomfort during conversation; as many dassens fan themselves when overheating or unhappy, it has become an insult.
A traditional dassen greeting is more physical than verbal. Except for name introductions, most dassens will greet each other with a gentle headbutt and a smile. Longer-horned islanders may greet their friends by gently clicking their horns together instead of bumping heads, but this is not common among mainlanders.
Eyes are only closed when greeting a lover or a sibling, otherwise, it is considered polite to make eye contact during the greeting.
Headbutts as a form of greeting are not always as friendly as they may seem. They are a fantastic way to gauge the other dassen’s strength and compare horn sizes, in the case of hostile rivals.
Tree jumping is a sport that comes from traditional dassen lifestyles, where dassens would spend months, sometimes even years, living in the trees and not landing on the jungle floor. They would travel by jumping from tree to tree, sometimes over gaps three or four times their wingspan.
The sport is a more extreme version of this travel system. Dassens will challenge each other to extremes such as speed over a set distance, size of the gap jumped, and even how long they can spend falling without opening their wings. Though it is not common, some dassens have died during the sport.
It’s mostly practised by many mainland dassens, whose smaller wingspans help them navigate the trees, but islanders enjoy it too when their environment permits.
The dassen accent is very gentle and sounds almost like a whisper. Their preference to speak quietly is believed to have come from their wild environment; speaking loudly would attract predators. They can, however, be very loud, and their warning shrieks can be heard from over 5 kilometres away.
Their words tend not to be under 3 syllables, with names averaging 2-5 syllables, but one word usually expresses half a sentence.
Dassens do not have their own written language in terms of letters and numbers, but they have symbols and marks they use as signs in their homeland. Usually, they use these marks to describe the territories they are in for safety reasons.
By scratching marks into stone or on trees, they can communicate meanings such as “food this way”, “claimed territory”, “dangerous floods”, and more.
Dassens laugh almost silently. Their laughs are, more often than not, nothing more than quiet breaths (sometimes wheezes, if they are laughing hard) that make them sound like they’re panting or crying.
Clothing and Armour
The large membranes in a dassen’s wings mean the clothing they are able to wear is very restricted.
They cannot wear shirts like other Sentients without heavy modification, so most don’t bother trying to wear anything other than their more traditional clothing. Because of the difficulty of wearing clothes, and the close-knit nature of settlements, it is acceptable in many settlements (especially those with long-wingers) to live completely naked.
The main item of clothing in traditional dassen outfits are plain cloth overalls. These overalls give them space to move their wings freely, with minimal restriction. Straps on the front and back of the pants can be easily modified to suit an individual’s wings and body shape.
More modest dassens may wear ponchos or shawls alongside their overalls as a way to cover their chest. These dassens are usually very self-conscious, or travelling to foreign countries; generally, the wearing of ponchos is not affected by gender.
Mainland dassens often create wing-armour out of materials such as leather or scaled hide, which they strap onto the backs of their wings to protect them from prodding branches. This armour can restrict their flight while in use, but the protection it provides the wings is considered a fair trade as mainlanders prefer to leap from tree to tree and don’t often fly while not island-hopping.
The islanders prefer not to wear such armour as they enjoy flying long distances across the ocean so the restricted flight and added weight can be deadly.
The dassen pin-down is a modified version of the alk hold; it was originally developed by the alk people, but it was eventually adapted by the dassens to fit into their own fighting style.
The first step of the hold is getting the opponent onto their back. It doesn’t matter how this is done. Usually, the opponent is distracted and tripped; though brute force can be used as well.
Then the dominating dassen will use their wings to batter the opponent —often stabbing with their horns to cause more damage in severe fights— until they are able to stand completely over them and drop to their knees; pinning their opponents wings under their own legs so they cannot struggle, and gripping their wrists to hold them down.
This position is favoured by those with longer horns, who can use their horns to threaten their opponent while pinning them down.
An important part of mastering the pin-down is knowing the feathered wings of Rendi dwellers makes this move almost pointless to use; it is better to learn the alk hold as most Rendi races would prefer to lose a few primary feathers over the entire fight.
Garro is the name for a small trio of Das island between Keos Leesa and Kaka Laki. These islands are relatively removed from the Das, though they are still considered part of the country, and it is believed that these islands are the original home of the dassens; back when they were a tribe of shapeshifting zokex.
This idea is also supported by the amount of ancient nurlak cities on the islands. There are thousands of run-down buildings scattered over the islands, though none are very well preserved due to exposure to animals and the weather.
Some dassens have tried to settle on the Garro islands, but always feel uneasy and leave after a few weeks. The longest a settlement has ever stayed on the island was in 7,025 AE; the group of 46 survived on the island for eight months before mysteriously disappearing during the Sonfe eclipse.
Only one survivor remained, Kaseeka, who was found in the abandoned settlement as a child by a search party six months later; completely blind, and without the scales or birthmarks she described herself as having. She went missing soon after her rescue, though many travellers have claimed to have seen her while passing through the mysterious islands; unaged, even thousands of years later.
La’ta is a small island far enough from Das to be considered a separate country. It is only a short distance from the gural kingdom, Zolt’nata.
La’ta is best for its war with Zolt’nata; made famous by an internationally best-selling book series, The War and The Walk.
The book is a romanticised version of the kingdom’s actual history; featuring the La’ta prince (Faitalili) as its main character, and his long journey through the underground cave systems to meet with the Zolt’nata prince (Ku Sali’an Vee). Faitalili had been injured during the war; his wings had been damaged beyond healing, and his reasons for using the cave systems to meet his lover was his inability to fly across the ocean border.
The two princes would secretly meet in the tunnels under the kingdoms, and eventually, both inherited their thrones and were able to end the war.
Faitalili’s journey inspired a new tradition in young dassens from La’ta; unlike regular dassen tradition, when dassens from La’ta’s horns begin to grow in they begin a vigorous journey travelling through the cave systems to Zolt’nata and back. They will bind their wings before leaving for their journey —restricting their flight as a sign of respect for their prince— and walk the well-known trail through the cave systems.
During their travels they will meet other dassens whom they will take on as travelling companions. They grow strong bonds with these companions, and when they finally return to La’ta they will create their settlements with them instead of returning to their old homes.
Kel’di is the third dassen kingdom; located in the middle of the Rendi continent, it is a marvel of magic and science. Unlike any other known territory on Demrefor the kingdom of Kel’di has islands that float in the sky above the clouds; unsupported by the ground far below.
Nobody knows how these islands came to be or how they remain afloat. There are a hundred different legends across Kel’di alone, coming from various families and settlements, and thousands of theories spanning across Demrefor. However, despite all attempts at figuring the floating islands out, there is no sure explanation of their origin.
The mystery surrounding the islands make them a popular subject of study; scholars from across the world visit Kel’di for a chance to see the unique landscape. However, most foreign scholars are unable to make their way onto the floating islands due to their extreme height. Instead, they populate the ground below the islands, and have created a unique secondary culture to the kingdom that greatly values education and knowledge.
This is often referred to as Kel culture, and though new people are always coming and going from the Kel’di land, there are families that have been living on the ground since before recorded history.
The culture of the islands above are referred to as Di culture. Di culture is mostly the same as regular dassen culture. Only, it lacks the vast oceans between the islands and instead has a vast expanse of clouds.
The most infamous dassen to have ever lived is Linzor Kinburn; his history is taught among dassen, Har’py, and wolven people alike.
Dassens tell the story of Linzor as a bedtime fable, referring to him as “a creature in a dassen skin” and telling children that if they commit terrible crimes, he’ll come for them in the night to kidnap them and force them to marry him.
This bedtime story is often accompanied by drawings of the man as a disfigured beast, and warnings about him eating the wings of disobedient children so they cannot escape him.
For Har’pies, he is known in a famous saying: “Kama bal’hiki Linzor basaka,” which translates literally into “thinking you’re handsome like Linzor.”
It means to think you are better than you are, and is used as an insult especially in the Prophet bloodline.
Wolvens know him as “Self-Slayer,” mocking his attempted legacy as “Dragon Slayer”; referring to how he brought about his own downfall by mistreatment of those who followed him, and his attempted murder of Immortal Queen Distro.
Queen Distro has a large portrait of him hanging in her lounge room. When asked by a foreign diplomat why she would hang a painting of her attempted murderer in her living quarters, she couldn’t think of an answer and pretended to fall asleep.
There are many abandoned ancient nurlak temples in dassen lands; it is considered a crime to deface them.
Dassens are able to spread their wings and use them to keep afloat in water when they need a rest while travelling. This is not comfortable, however, and most avoid doing it for long periods of time.
The Das islands are full of predators. Giant wasps, huge spiders, large predatory cats, oversized birds of prey, and carnivorous plants (some of which can move on their own) are so common that dassens have adopted and modified a human saying to suit their own: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you it’s yours— if it doesn’t, it got eaten.”
Dassens often keep das millipedes as pets and mounts, and will use their carapace to make jewellery and other decorations. Das millipedes are considered an important part of the dassen lifestyle and if a child wants a millipede, it is considered their right to raise an egg to adult.
Because of the way they trade, Das doesn’t have an official currency. Even so, they often accept the International currency when dealing with non-dassens; although their goods may seem severely overpriced to some.
Young dassens play fight by headbutting each other and wrestling. This is very different from real fighting; the body language is much looser, and there is a lot more vocalisation.
Dassens have the highest natural heat tolerance of any humanoid Sentient and, if raised in hot areas, are able to withstand extremely high temperatures. Not all dassens have this tolerance, however, as dassens who grow up in colder climates have a harder time adjusting to the heat.
Make Your Own!
If you would like to make your own dassen character, you can use this base!