Articles - Ecology of the Hailene

Hailene stand between five foot ten and seven feet tall and weight between ninety and one hundred and fifty pounds. They are humanoid, having two arms and two legs.

A pair of white or grey feathered wings grows from their backs, emerging just between their shoulder blades and spanning up twelve feet. When not in use, these wings close tightly against their back. These feathers are waterproof and fire retardant and when healthy, remarkably difficult to remove from the wing.

At birth, a hailene’s wings are soft with down and dappled brown and white. From the ages of nine and fourteen, these feathers fall out and flight feathers grow in, usually white or light grey. Once their flight feathers have grown in, many hailene decorate their feathers with tribal tattoos. Tribal elders or those in similar positions of power have their feathers dyed completely black or sky blue to ensure their underlings know their status

Hailene most often have black or blonde hair and light complexions. Occasional natural variations occur, most often resulting in brown or black feathers or brown hair. These hailene are considered ang’hailene.

To aid in flight, a hailene’s skeleton is hollow like a bird’s and they have two less ribs than normal humanoids. Likewise, their organs are smaller than normal, almost the size of a halfling’s. these factors lead to hailene being generally more fragile than other races.

Psychology and Society
Hailene are taught at birth that their purpose in life is to prove themselves superior in all ways to others, especially their kin and peers. Because of this, most hailene have quirks developed from years of attempting to impose their dominance. For example, many have amazing posture from years of standing up straight to appear taller, or deeper, more commanding voices from trying to assert intimidate their peers.

It is no surprise then that hailene society revolves around a strict system of caste. While the particulars of this system varies from tribe to tribe, the pattern is similar; elder spellcasters are the chieftains, (often called Rook-lords) with other casters below them, and social pecking orders forming around wing color, complexion, or family ties. Ang’hailene are always the lowest of the low in hailene society.

Whether half-breeds, or simply out of the norm, there exist in hailene society a class of individuals who are viewed as inferior specimens of hailene. Sometimes black feathered, or red haired, sometimes olive skinned and sometimes the results of illicit affairs with non-hailene, these poor creatures are all known by the epitaph ‘ang’hailene’ literally ‘bad’ or ‘failed people’.

In hailene society, ang’hailene are unemployable, relegated to beggars and base laborers. They are not allowed to own property or speak to rook-lords. An ang’hailene who tries to court a hailene is often beaten to death by outraged mobs. Thus, ang’hailene only breed among one another, or, if they leave the tribe, other humanoids.

The plight of ang’hailene in the western half of the continent is somewhat better as young hailene in that part of the world often grow up without any other hailene at all around and find themselves happy just to meet another winged individual. This open-mindedness is a badge of pride among western hailene who see themselves as more refined than their tribal eastern cousins.

Hailene Lands
Hailene live in hilltop or cliff-side towns with very little fortification. This is because hailene depend on the might of their casters (A hailene village is 30% primary spellcasters in its adult population as spell casting is a well looked upon trait) and the guile of its fighting forces to repel spirit beasts rather than mere walls.

Within a town, family groups stay in tightly clustered villas built into the hillside. Forges and shops huddle in the center of the town around the homes of the rook-lords. Raised towers dot the town to provide guards with excellent vantage points.

All buildings are owned by the rook-lords, who, decide where each family will live for a given five year period, thus deciding what families will be in more contact with which.

All primary spellcasters over that age of forty are eligible to become rook-lords. Rook-lords are elected by popular poll every five years when the houses change, with every family getting one voice. It is because of this that heads of families strive to ensure their children are married off quickly and that they will be the dominant partner in their home.

Hailene Courtship and Family Life
Despite the political aspect of the family unit, Hailene marry for love and family. Each marriage is a new ‘family’ in the eyes of the law and thus a new vote, so it doesn’t matter who one marries as long as one marries. Unmarried adult hailene have no political power.

Hailene reach adulthood around sixteen and from that point forward, they are expected to be on the lookout for a mate. While personal tastes vary, hailene most value a strong will in their mate, ensuring this favorable leadership trait is passed on to the children.

Shows of affection among hailene seem cold and alien to most other societies. Hailene do not kiss or embrace unless they are already mating. Instead, hailene preen one another as birds do to show affection. Hailene couples are sometimes seen in public wrapped in each other’s wings, smoothing plumage or removing dry feathers.

Like all hailene relationships, hailene love is steeped in an undercurrent of supremacy battles. Lovers and betrothed compete with one another whenever possible, trying to prove their superiority. Eventually, one of the two relents and the victor is the head of the family. The dominant partner runs the household and rears the children (ensuring that the children learn their values and views) while the less dominant one works outside the house.

Children are taught by their dominant parent and their family and remain in the household until marriage. By the time of maturity, siblings usually have a healthy competition going on between one another. This rivalry can appear to be a grudge to outsiders, but blood ties are important to hailene and they will fight to the death and sacrifice even the highest positions of power to protect family..

Hailene Religion
The hailene took the distance of the gods, especially Dodregaar, in the Vishnari period personally and it was this perceived slight that caused the War of Ascension as the hailene attempted to prove themselves the superior race on the planet.

Alienated by the Greater Pantheon, the Hailene began praying to their ancestors and the hailene heroes of legend (and in some cases, storied fiction). Overtime, this practice has become a full blown religion with over five hundred individual deities.

Most hailene gods are household gods, the worship of whom passes form dominant family member to dominant family member. A few, such as Great Selenia are well known enough to be revered by all hailene. Additionally, hailene families have special days to hold in reverence for family members close to them.

Clerics of the hailene pantheon are few and far between, with those who do exist being clerics of the pantheon rather than a given god. More numerous are paladins, some dedicated to the memories, goals and values of relatives as closely related as grandparents.

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition © Wizards of the Coast
World of Ere and related original content © Landon Porter