The Dry Season
Factions of Humanity
While the humans have no islands or nations to call their own – some do spring up, intermittently, but are inevitably destroyed either by vengeful orcs or by chaos-happy Varohai mages – they nonetheless have formed distinct cultures and systems of values that separate them from each other.
It should be noted that the greater part of humanity is not strongly affiliated with any of these factions – stuck as second-class citizens at best and slave labor at worst, most humans simply want to survive. These factions flourish among pirates, catacomb-dwellers and the human merchants who make up the lower middle class of the elven republics.
The Red Crows
The Red Crows are the faction that most alarms the other races – as bent on vengeance against the orcs as the orcs are on vengeance against humans, their stated goal is the destruction of the Celestial Kingdom. The catacombs of the orcish islands swarm with Red Crow bases and most human pirates are, if not actively members, more than willing to hide and transport Red Crow operatives. They are widely regarded as dangerous thugs by the elves, who actually put more resources into dispersing them than the orcs do: the orcs, when they bother to acknowledge the Red Crows at all, usually assign the job of harrying them to generals and ministers in disfavor with the emperor.
The Starseekers are a faction that embraces the gnomes as humanity’s only true friends, and put their resources towards helping the gnomes pierce the mists of the central island. Despite their name, they do not necessarily believe the gnomish theory that they are all born of starstuff, merely that it is a worthy goal to help the only race that treats them as anything close to equals. The catacomb cities of the gnomes are the primary bases of the Starseekers, who seek a method to break through the mists from below the central island while the gnomes above them seek to dispel the mists entirely.
Foresters, farmers and harvesters, the Vinemen believe that freedom and purpose are found in cultivation of the land. They are commonly found throughout human communities and, despite their seemingly peaceful and communitarian goals, are widely despised by elves and orcs. This is because their focus on owning the land one cultivates makes their members the likeliest to flee to the surface during the wet season, and the Vinemen have strong ties to the dwarven kingdoms in spite of spending long months out of contact with that part of the world. Both elves and orcs find this constant drain on their labor force irritating, and have even attempted several wars against the dwarves to stop it. There are even rumors that small communities of dwarves can be found in the catacombs supporting the Vinemen.
The Isolationists are the only major faction working towards actually establishing a human nation, but they are badly hampered by a divide within their ranks. The issue dividing them is the question of where they should establish it: the larger side of the split, somewhat more than half of the leadership, believe the best choice is to establish a kingdom on the northern coast of the wastelands, near to the great forests and far from the nations of the dwarves, who might object to new neighbors. The other side believes they should settle on the smaller, sparsely inhabited rocks and islands and in the catacombs and forge their own, self-sufficient kingdom in the sky. Neither side can satisfactorily address the question of how this would be accomplished, when there are no human shipyards and either plan would require many rynwood ships.