Species: Human, Demon-borne
Gender: Ciswoman (she/her)
Sexuality: Asexual (with mild sex aversion), Heteromantic
Within the Story:Stella’s struggle with her asexuality in relation to the various love interests is one of the central driving conflicts of the story. She’s developed a stable relationship with her sexuality within herself, but she feels betrayed, in a way, by her romantic and social desires. She wants to be in a relationship, to have that specific, special, emotional connection with someone but has absolutely no interest in sex. She doesn’t know how to find the balance between these two equally strong desires. A challenge made particularly difficult, of course, by the tacit expectation that sex should be a part of any healthy adult relationship. When any new romantic foray feels like a compromise tilted wildly out of your favor, it can be difficult to decide to take that risk
Within the Lore:The fun part of building out the lore of the world the game exists within is following the trail of speculation to how humans would react to living in a universe where things other than humans exist, even being a minority in some populations. The world that Stella lives in isn’t free of certain vestiges of heteronormativity, but when compared to the taboos of inter-species love affairs, things like same-sex attraction really just don’t tick the “abnormal relationship” charts. Stella’s moms are even a same-sex couple. This is not to say Stella herself doesn’t run into instances of systemic social negativity. Sex aversion (largely due to interactions with the elven population, but more on that later) carries with it associations of profundity, pedantry, and patronization in various amounts depending on the individual. While chastity is not unheard of for certain ethnic and religious purposes across the human population at large, total, prolonged abstinence hasn’t been particularly en vogue since the start of the modern era. For Stella, this usually means confusion or excuses.
Gender: Other (she/they/it)
Within the Story: We all have a nagging voice in the back of our heads. Stella’s is quite literal in the form of Rose. Rose is almost carnal in her desire to connect with other people, frequently pushing Stella to go against her own desires and even, at times, her better judgement. This inner battle forms the other central conflict of the story: Stella’s relationship with a being with desires in opposition to and sometimes stronger then her own. This leads her, at times, to make romantic and sexual decisions that make her fundamentally unhappy just to squelch the screeching of that voice in her ear.
Within the Lore:Others are a peculiar thing. For years, centuries even, it was assumed when an Other was bound to a person (making said person a demon-borne) they simply oriented themselves in direct opposition to their host. That Others as individuals simply lived outside the concepts of gender, sexuality, race, and age. That they may not even have the cognitive ability to recognize higher forms of social construction. Then the old ways gave way to newer ways and the records of those demon-borne and demon-flashed (a less involved version of the former with its own ramifications) became more robust and more accurate. Scholars studying magical alterations delved deeper into the annals and put together historical narratives that had never been connected before. A pattern emerged. Demon-borne accounts of being drawn to people they would neve have chosen in their conscious minds. Affections that didn’t feel like their own. Couplings of demon-bornes that consistently voiced distaste for all other members of their partners’ gender with the exception of the one they chose. Feelings they couldn’t pin or place. The Others, it would seem, were slightly more cognitively independent than originally thought. One certainly can’t apply human concepts of gender and sexuality to them, and it remains to be seen just exactly how they align themselves to such notions.
Gender: Ciswoman (she/her)
Within the Story:While not a lot of attention is drawn to her sexuality in the story, she is spear-heading the movement at their company to run an LGBT+ line of books.
Within the Lore:
Some people are gay, Steven
Gender: Cisman (he/him)
Sexuality: Heterosexual (but within his own species…usually)
Within the Story: By his own admission, Chia’s apparent attraction to Stella is a bit abnormal. He’s never really been into humans before. So why does he pursue her? He doesn’t really know himself, but it doesn’t particularly bother him because it’s not strange enough to break his perception of his own vectors of attraction. For Stella, her attraction to Chia feels way more baffling. He’s one of the very few she’s ever felt anything even close to a physical, sexual attraction to, and he’s not even the same species. It nags at her, but there’s really nothing to be done about it but accept the aberration as part of herself.
Within the Lore: You, of course, can’t paint an entire species with a single paintbrush, but Chia-hao’s laissez faire attitude toward his attraction to Stella really is a hallmark of the species at large. It’s not uncommon to hear the joke that an ariesian will “try anything once.” This pairs with a very distinct social survival mechanism they’ve picked up in dealing with other sapient species: aggressive assimilation. Despite their inner life and feelings on the matter, ariesians became experts at conforming to the ideals of the society they had integrated themselves into including expressions of gender and sexuality. The closest one can see to what the modern approach to the matter would be for an ariesian in their natural state is in the last of the nomadic peoples. There we observe a society with a tendency toward a binary approach to both the physical and social nature of gender and sex, but with a bent that appears to lack a strong sexual hierarchy. To try to squash ariesian concepts of gender into human terms is entirely disingenuous, however, as their sexual dimorphism simply isn’t the same.
Species: Human, Psychophage
Gender: Cisman (he/him)
Sexuality: Pansexual (with a heavy preference toward women)
Within the Story: Early in the story, it’s revealed that Chris has a magical inclination that requires him to engage with multiple sexual partners. This leads him to a certain level polyamory-by-necessity that he isn’t totally sure he’d pick given his druthers. Stella, however, sees it, initially, as an opportunity for compromise. If she never would have been “enough” to sexually satisfy him to begin with, then maybe she won’t feel pressured to do so. Maybe they can separate those two aspects of attraction from one another and find a happy medium for them both. Life is never quite so easy, though, especially with feelings involved, and dealing with these issues quickly becomes the central conflict of their story.
Within the Lore:In clinical terms, Chris is a part of the succubus subgroup of psychophagic vampirism. If he doesn’t feed, he gets sick, and he feeds by engaging in various levels of sexual activities. Because the act of sex is so essential to their survival, many succubi face a complete disconnect between their sexuality and their sexual partners. Some purposefully only feed from persons and genders they’re not attracted to and don’t feed from persons and genders they are attracted to. Some draw the divide between individual people, preferring not to feed on those they’d like to seek a more long term romantic partnership with. Others still don’t feel this sense of disconnect and gladly incorporate their feeding preferences into the expression of their sexuality. Any given succubus may go through phases where they feel any number of ways about their sexual expression as they age, grow, and learn more about themselves.Chris up to this has generally taken a more relaxed approach to his vampirism and romantic life as a whole, taking things as they come. Now that he’s moving into a phase of his life where he’s thinking about long-term partnership, he’s starting to feel out where he might have to draw new boundaries.
Gender: A non-egg-bearer ( “non-egg-bearer” in his native language and a combination of they/him in human languages)
Within the Story: Our poor Faakhir. For years he thought there must be something not quite right with himself. The idea of being courted by a lovely drakkaken maid and settling down and giving her a family just never seemed appealing. When he decided to venture out into the “outside” for higher education (a common rite of passage for some villages), he realized that this apathy toward partnering didn’t apply universally. That he was genuinely physically attracted to humans, elves, sylvans, and ariesians. And well, that’s just a pickle, isn’t it? For Faakhir, he finds himself in the middle of a struggle between what he wants, what his family wants from him, and what he was raised to expect of himself.
Within the Lore: When looking at a sapient species capable of facultative parthenogenesis, you have to completely divest yourself of human-centric pre-conceived notions of gender and sexuality. The broader drakkaken worldview derives from a belief (in various ways and degrees depending on local culture) in a Universal Collective Conscious and that each individual (drakkaken in particular) directly contributes to the nature of this Conscious which then affects the structure of reality. Those who bear eggs have a place. Those who contribute to the bearing of eggs have a place. Those who choose to do neither to devote their resources for the greater good of the community have a place. The Shadow Priestesses who maintain the sanctity of the All-Mind have a place. People who leave home to go bang humans halfway across the country don’t have a place. And why wouldn’t you want a place? The familial response to those “unplaced” ranges from non-malicious confusion to outright hostility because so many from the “isolation” generations simply cannot cognitively fathom allowing yourself to fall off “the Path.” More progressive interpretations of the All-Mind suggest that She is simply creating new roads for their expanding world, but change is slow and growing pains leave people like Faakhir in the gaps between.
Species: Elf (wood)
Gender: Cisman (he/him, would use pronouns for “should not reproduce” in Traditional Elven)
Sexuality: Asexual, Aromantic
Within the Story: “Aren’t elves asexual?””Common misconception, my dear, they just have low libidos.” Except, in Iambe’s case, he actually is asexual. Since he’s also a greenwitch (something wood elves universally consider a genetic abomination) he’s never really had to deal with too many complications from this. The elves don’t want him reproducing, anyway, and the humans he’s chosen to live with don’t really tend to frame elves in that sort of fashion. Except for the ones who do to a fetishistic degree, and boy it’s sure easy to ignore those people. Then he meets Stella, and for the first time he feels like little fires are starting to pop off in his brain and his heart and the other baser parts of him. It doesn’t help that he finds her utterly baffling as a person. What will he do? How will he handle it? Not well, at first, but that’s how the story goes, doesn’t it?
Within the Lore:Humans looking in on elves from the outside see them as being beyond baser things like sexual attraction, when in fact, their relationship with gender, sex, and attraction is just as nuanced and complex. While they recognize a hypothetical spectrum of genders, they tend to lack any significant performative gender division in terms of clothing, appearance, and societal placement. So the practical application of this spectrum doesn’t really manifest in consistent, observable ways at the individual level. Due to high rates of infertility, the elven focus tends to be less on sex and gender and more on reproduction. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find reproduction, family structure and sexuality completely divorced from one another. If you can have a baby, you better be having a baby, all other factors notwithstanding. You can see the value placed on genetic perfection and proliferation in the “classic” pronoun structure of Traditional Elven: “can bear a child,” “has borne a child,” “can impregnate,” “cannot reproduce,” “should not reproduce.” Iambe, falling in the “should not reproduce” category has, in many ways, freed himself from the oppressive structure of elven social expectation…at a cost
Species: Human, Passive Magician (empath)
Within the Story:For Rene, his transness is less a story point as it is a part of his peripheral backstory. It’s discussed but not exactly a central point of conflict for him and Stella.
Within the Lore:In the world of the story, something like transitioning genders doesn’t really present any significant societal repercussions in the vast majority of modern, industrialized countries. There are, of course, cultural exceptions, but even these are on track to slowly give way to more progressive mindsets. Where Rene, specifically, ran into trouble, is the relationship between his transness and his passive magical ability: empathy. Passive magic is one of myriad magical abilities and dysfunctions affected by an imbalance or mismatch between mind and body. For Rene, this meant an inability to properly harness what could have been a very powerful magical quality. After two decades of suffering, it would be HRT that eventually began the process of realigning his physical and mental forms and tapping into the magic residing within him.
Gender: Non-binary (by human standards, fuck you) (they/them)
Within the Story: For Tarka, refusing to even acknowledge a place in the pseudo-binary of human gender is an act of rebellion. It’s a giant screw you to the society that wants to commodify and assimilate them at the expense of their personhood.
Within the Lore: Elven and human scholars have attempted to apply their own mores to various sylvan subgroups and quickly realized that it was just totally impossible to do so. Sylvan subgroups engage in varied and multitudinous identities and interpersonal connections in different combinations of romantic, platonic, sexual, parental, and emotional. These individual states and connections are so nuanced and specific as to be almost completely incapable of definition via written language and only seem to find description in the natural empathic language of the sylvan. Some are sex-specific, some aren’t, and the multi-family nature of childrearing relieves individuals of any expectation of pair-bonding for the sake of reproduction and, therefore, what we might see as heteronormativity. Then a sylvan, for whatever reason, enters the human world and finds that the humans can’t help but assign them these hard definitions of gender and sexuality. And the sylvan in question can only shrug and agree. Not like they care or understand such things at an intellectual level. “You say I’m a woman? Cool…I’m a woman, I guess.” This is what makes Tarka’s continued insistence on a non-definition so important to them and how they establish their place in human society.