Each city-state in Dark Sun is obviously based off of real world civilizations from throughout history and pre-history (Draj - Aztec, Balic - Greek, etc). I remember seeing a thread here or elsewhere discussing the ethnicity of the people from each city-state, but I cannot seem to find it. So, I was wondering, what are the ethnic traits and physical characteristics of people from each of the Seven Cities?
I can guess at some, based on real world racial examples. If people from Draj resemble ancient aztecs, they would have skin ranging from dark to light brown, dark eyes. Hair would be coarse, black, and straight. etc.
I imagine Tyr is an ethnic melting pot of people from all of the other city-states.
I’m wondering if there’s any material that described each in detail, official or otherwise?
The Ivory Triangle mentions the common characteristics for Gulgans and Nibenese, otherwise there’s nothing canon I know of that discusses this. That said it is worth keeping in mind that the Tyr region is relatively small and sees a great deal of trade and interaction that has taken place over centuries if not millenia. Because of this it is reasonable to assume that a great deal of mixing has occurred, meaning folks of all sorts of racial traits exist in many of the cities.
One interesting point I recall in the Ivory triangle was there being a legend of Lalali-Pui forming Gulg from three different kingdoms and afterwards basically letting in anyone (even elves, halflings, etc) as full Gulgans as long as they follow the Oba. So it’s possible Gulg may actually have more than one “people”. This is also quite possible for other city states as well.
I figured Tyr especially is a mix of all human ethnicities, but in a lot of canon material it is discussed that every city-state has its own variation of Common. In some, they go so far as to distinguish them as different languages entirely (which I like, but find to be an unnecessary hassle for player characters to know that many languages). If the city-states are isolated enough to have different languages from one another, I would assume they have distinct ethnic groups.
Not to delve too much into the race issue, but I also have to assume there’s basically no white people in Dark Sun because (duh) its a desert, with the lightest skin tones probably being bronze or light brown. So far I’ve just been going off of what each real world culture looked like, but I’ll definitely check out the Ivory Triangle now that I know that info is there.
Basically, what I’m after, is when a player in my game creates a human character from a specific city-state, what will that human look like? In the 5e PHB they delve pretty deep into different ethnic groups and their traits, but there’s basically no information on what the humans of Athas actually look like.
If you mean European/Caucasian, I am sure there are plenty. The question of whether those European type people on Athas have white skin would depend on their social status. Obviously a field slave is going to be out in the sun, and to an extent have tanned skin and red necks (which is where the word “redneck” comes from - the poor white Southern farmers working the fields).
I would say there are all kinds of human phenotypes represented on Athas. I think your real question is: In the various city states are there dominant human ethnic groups? The Dark Sun materials do not offer any guidance on this matter at all. My guess is that there are regional differences among the cities, but effectively the human peoples of Athas are deracinated. In addition, cosmetic mutations among humans on Athas are quite rampant. I doubt there is much ethnic consciousness at all except for a pan-human consciousness.
Veiled Alliance gives details for each city-state’s culture and human colouration. You may want to check this alphastream article for the real-world counterparts.
As for languages, it is not clearly stated whether each city-state uses a variant of Common, or a distinct language. The original setting mentions Common as the only language of humans, whereas the revised speaks of city-state languages.