Nu Mou

The Nu Mou are an elusive group of hunched, doglike creatures. They are among the longest-lived races, but age early; as they approach adolesence, Nu Mou quickly lose suppleness and muscular flexibility, gradually becoming crooked, stooped adults incapable of moving faster than a shuffle. Bound by these physical limitations, they have become first-rate sages and intellectuals, channeling the energy other races put into honing their bodies into sharpening their minds.

Though they share a single name, there is a significant amount of physical variety among the Nu Mou, to such an extent that some naturalists believe the race encompasses two entirely separate species. The most commonly-encountered Nu Mou are gray- or brown-skinned, with long, floppy ears, elephant-like hides and sunken nostrils on either side of the face. Others are smaller and lighter-skinned, with brown, button-like noses, ears like a beagle's, and prominent facial hair. Others still mix features of the first two, though there are some physical constants; beyond the hunched bodies, all sub-species share long, heavy tails topped with a layer of coarse fur, small, four-fingered hands and three-toed feet.

Vital Data

Representatives: Ivaness (FFXII), Ezel Berbier (FFTA)
Typical Height: 0.8-1.1m (Male/Female)
Typical Weight: 80-90kg (Male/Female)
Hair Colors: White, Blond
Eye Colors: Brown
Habitats: Mountains, Marshes, Plains, Hills, Deserts, Cities
Lifespan: 200-250 years
Young: 8-18 years
Average: 50-100 years
Old: 150-200 years

Society

Nu Mou civilization is based upon education to such an extent that ties of learning are considered more important than even ties of blood. Nu Mou are expected to leave their families at an early age and find an older, more experienced mentor of their own accord, training under his tutelage until they are themselves capable of educating others. These mentors do not necessarily have to be Nu Mou themselves; almost any being of exceptional wisdom and learning can step into this role, provided they are willing to adopt the student as one of their own. Neither will every seeker of knowledge be a Nu Mou, as other races often revere the thickskinned beings for their depth of knowledge and aptitude as sorcerors.

The relationship between instructor and pupil is expected to be a familial one – the student is given a new name, clothed, fed, sheltered, and cared for as kin, while the teacher is accorded the respect and obedience due any 'true' parent. Upon death, the instructor's estate is divided up among all surviving apprentices; books, scrolls, and other texts are inherited by the seniormost members of the intellectual 'family,' with the understanding that they will carry on the studies begun by their former teacher. Most Nu Mou will only train one or two at a time, though the most learned and renowned may have up to a dozen pupils living under their roof.

Because of the significant cost of sustaining an 'extended family,' it is not uncommon for older Nu Mou to practice a craft or trade alongside their intellectual pursuits, making a living with alchemy, the appraising of ancient relics, or crafting enchanted items. Others may become magical mercenaries, hiring their services out to adventurers and monster hunters eager for added sorcerous punch on their expeditions. However, the Nu Mou are careful to keep this kind of freelancing within ethical boundaries – profit is ultimately a secondary consideration.

Due to their small population, Nu Mou society rarely extends beyond individual villages and towns. Settlements almost always develop around the dwelling of a single great teacher, accumulating more residents as pupils begin taking on apprentices of their own until a full-fledged community develops. Not every Nu Mou is sedentary; surprisingly many adults take up a wandering lifestyle, embarking on grand odysseys across the world in search of knowledge and guidance. A cynical mind, however, might argue that these nomads have other motivations – just as a rolling stone gathers no moss, a roaming Nu Mou rarely has to worry about wellmeaning apprentices begging him to teach them the ins and outs of sagehood.

Roleplaying

A Nu Mou's demeanour is heavily influenced by their teachers. Those taught by other Nu Mou are gentle, almost dispassionate creatures; intellectuals to a fault, they may strike others as distant or impatient. Due to their bodily shortcomings, they have a strong distaste for physical violence, and almost never engage in melee combat. If pressed to defend themselves, they prefer magic or diplomacy, particularly through intellectual bribery. Their enormous wealth of knowledge gives them significant leverage with other races, and they do not shy away from using it if the need arises, though they are careful never to reveal too much at once.

As they grow older, 'true' Nu Mou are likely to become more concerned with the 'big picture.' Their longevity allows them to bear first-hand witness to how one seemingly innocuous event can affect the course of history, establish a great nation or bring ruin to an entire peoples. For this reason, they may take on the mantle of history's shepherds, safeguarding ancient artifacts, observing obscure rituals, and intervening – albeit discreetly – in the natural flow of events to ensure that dark powers are not allowed to gain sway. Because of this, their actions and motives often seem inscrutable to other races who lack the Nu Mous' long-term vision.

Nu Mou taught by Humans or other races, however, tend to adapt their instructors' demeanour and outlook. Because they begin their education at a young age, it is very possible for a Nu Mou to end up at the mercies of a dark wizard or evil savant who gradually twists the pupil, eventually transforming them into a creature of pure malevolence. As a result of their innately magical natures, it is not unheard of for Nu Mou to transform into demons, though individuals who suffer this fate are usually killed by kinsmen who consider the death an act of mercy.

Nu Mou benefit from strongly developed magical senses, and have the unique ability to clearly see the flowing streams of elemental energy fundamental to all spellcasting. This makes them particularly adept at recognising areas of significant ambient power and identifying magical items and artifacts whose function may not be obvious at first glance.

A Nu Mou's name is assigned at an early age by a teacher, resulting in a certain diversity in naming. Traditionally, however, Nu Mou names are exactly three syllables in length, with an apostrophe after the first syllable. A limited range of sounds are used in naming, creating monickers that are often indistinguishable from one another; examples include Ma'kenroh, Roh'kenmou, and Ma'kleou.

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