|Lifespan||Average: 200 Years
Pregnancy: 10 Months
|Height Data|| 6'3" / 1.905m
6'6" / 1.981m
|Weight Data|| 195 lbs. / 88.45kg
210 lbs. / 95.25kg
|Skin Colors||Porcelain, Ivory, White, Alabaster, Cream, Amber, Olive, Copper, Brown|
|Hair Colors||White, Black, Silver, Raven, Snow, Jet, Brown, Tan, Blonde, Red, Auburn, Pink, Pale Pink, Pale Blue|
|Eye Colors||Solid Red, Solid Gold, Solid Blue, Solid Green, Solid Gray, Solid Purple or Solid White|
|Physical Distinctions||Opportunistic Hematophage, Physical Frailty|
|Properties||Zuìgāo Elf Properties|
Others will tell you that we are no different from them, in that we should demand no more respect and they should expect no less.
This, however, is not the way of the Zuìgāo! We are the best on our world, so why wouldn't we be the best elsewhere? If they try to tell you otherwise, look upon yourself - you are not of the Zuìxiǎo, but one of the Zuìgāo! Never mistake yourself for anything less.
Remember, what the Zuìgāo seeks is in himself; what everyone else seeks is found in others. We are the providence of the inferior, we are the eyes for the blind, strength for the weak and a shield for the defenseless. We will force them to remember this. For every commonality we may have, we will be the one thing they cannot: we will be Zuìgāo.
Qingmen the Greater's Speech to Gōngjiān Emissaries
The Zuìgāo Elves have always considered themselves as the pinnacle of life on their world, so the realization that they were not alone in the universe came as an unpleasant shock. They were one of the founding members of the Planar Council, though their reasons for doing so were not entirely pleasant; they felt that their presence was required for it to succeed.
At one point in their evolutionary history, their ancestors split into two different lineages. The Zuìgāo are lithe, more fragile but intellectually capable, whereas the Zuìxiǎo are more muscular and durable but still possess only a rudimentary level of intelligence. Through the years, the Zuìgāo have selectively bred their Zuìxiǎo cousins to be a labor force in addition to sweetening their blood for consumption. Zuìxiǎo blood is treated as a Gōngjiān delicacy but on other planes, it is viewed in a more depraved manner.
Despite being synapsidal, Zuìgāo physiology is nearly identical to most other bipedal mammalian species. Their body consists of the legs, the torso, the arms, the neck, and the head.
Development of muscle mass is diminished when compared to other sophonts causing the Zuìgāo to have more sinewy builds than bulky ones. Visual muscle definition is decreased as well, causing Zuìgāo that exhibit more physical traits to still appear puny in stature. The Zuìgāo instead are built to focus more on agility, reflexes, and mental development.
The cerebral cortex of the Zuìgāo is larger than typically found with other sophonts, leading to increased mental capabilities. Their frontal lobe specifically seems further developed, giving them enhanced functionality in areas such as problem-solving, judgment, organization, attention, concentration, planning and emotional expression. This can be reflected in many of the cultures the Zuìgāo developed on Gōngjiā and the desirability some have for Zuìgāo in certain careers and positions.
The common ancestor of the Zuìgāo and Zuìxiǎo was an ape-like synapsid that existed in both plains and dense forests. Those that continued to evolve in the plains developed bodies more designed for running, mental faculties outsmarting competing predators and prey as well as for communicating in social groups. It is thought that this was also when they started developing habits and physiology of opportunistic hematophagy, or the ability to digest blood as a foodstuff.
While the Zuìgāo started to take on more mammalian traits, Zuìxiǎo development leaned more towards reptilian ones. The Zuìgāo still do possess several traits more often found in reptilian life however. They have a forked tongue, though any sensory purpose it provided is now vestigial. There are also several locations where instead of skin, scales can be found. The location, intensity, and coloration of these scales can vary between individuals.
A Zuìgāo's skin tends to be very pale which sometimes leads to it being confused for albinism. Though some variation exists based primarily on geographical location, it is a much narrower gamut of colors than some other sophonts. The eyes of Zuìgāo also exhibit reptilian traits, with vertical pupils typically not found in mammals.
Averaging 6 feet 3 inches in height, even the shortest Zuìgāo at around 6 feet can stand over most, with the tallest of them being measured at 6 feet 6 inches. Both male and female Zuìgāo average 195 lbs. in weight.
Reproduction starts with internal fertilization and the formation of a single embryo, though in rare occurrences up to three may develop simultaneously. Zuìgāo pregnancy lasts typically for ten months, after which the female will give birth to her young.
The newborn will be completely reliant on their parents for one year before being able to start to walk on their own. During the toddler phase, the Zuìgāo will become more mobile and independent, as well as learning to express their emotions and communication skills.
Zuìgāo children develop slower than some other sophonts and exhibit more childlike tendencies for up to ten years after their toddler phase. During this time their unique personalities develop and they become more familiar with their physical selves, developing their sense of balance and knowledge of their physical limitations. Throughout adolescence, the Zuìgāo physical development will finalize ending with sexual maturation. Adulthood can last for up to 75 years before the body starts exhibiting signs of aging into elderhood.
How quaint, your kind doesn't drink bloodwine? I suppose you would prefer to stick to your... plant alcohol, lacking in body and flavor. All it provides is an escape of your daily existence.
What a simple life you live.
Overheard from a Gōngjiān Zuìgāo Elf visiting a tavern on another plane
The Zuìgāo evolved with an omnivorous diet, allowing them to take full advantage of their surroundings. Though they had a large variety of things available the Zuìgāo prefer simplicity when it comes to their diets.
As with other sophonts, diets vary on a regional and cultural basis. Zuìgāo stomachs are very efficient and so have no problems adapting to foods found on the other planes.
Being opportunistic hematophages, Zuìgāo can obtain nutritional value from the blood of other creatures. Gōngjiān Zuìgāo will imbibe the blood of Zuìxiǎo regularly and is a regular part of their diet. While many enjoy it fresh, it is often fermented and made into a type of alcoholic beverage. It is also used regularly in cooking. While ingesting their blood is acceptable, even the Zuìgāo would not seek to taint themselves by consuming the flesh of their lesser cousins.
The Zuìgāo exhibit many biological differences from individual to individual, some being based on climate. Skin color, blood type, eye and hair colors are the most obvious though variation in facial shape, hair length and height typically vary as well. Most Zuìgāo exhibit some areas where they have scales instead of skin of which several factors can vary between individuals.
Many of these features have a genetic basis and members of family units will often have similar appearances to their relatives. Another trait that does seem to vary that isn't genetic however is hematophagic tendencies — some Zuìgāo are more willing to engage in the practice than others with Zuìgāo raised off-world sometimes completely lacking the need or urge to engage in it.
We are clearly different. What bothers me is that seen from afar, one can be confused for the other.
I can spend my entire life following philosophy, painting or even training my body and in the end... we still look alike.
Maybe the differences are not as prevalent as we are told.
A Zuìgāo Elf pondering the ways of the Núlìjiātíng
Evolutionary progression on Gōngjiā leads to a fundamental understanding of a lot of Zuìgāo culture. One can easily see where a lot of the culturally inherited arrogance comes from.
The Zuìgāo refer to their ancestors in all their forms as Chángnǚ. Synapsid life blossomed and spread on Gōngjiā without much competition, allowing it to have developed into a lot of niche roles. At their earliest, the Chángnǚ was an omnivorous quadruped that also engaged in opportunistic scavenging, roaming plains in great numbers.
The Chángnǚ existed in that form until the world became hotter and drier. That led to the growth of deserts, drier climates, and the decline of the primary areas they existed. During that time the Chángnǚ form began to change into a bipedal one. This allowed them to be able to climb in search of food, heightened their endurance and increased their survival rate. The change was gradual but ultimately what allowed them to survive that time of change on Gōngjiā.
Larger beasts took to the remaining forested areas the Chángnǚ were found in and slept during the day, waiting for the cooler nights to hunt for prey or find food. It is believed that during this time the opportunistic nature of the Chángnǚ must have developed hematophagic tendencies, allowing them to supplement their diets as food would become more scarce.
The few remaining forested areas served as their home until the plane once again began to cool; the deserts then began to recede and plant life again had spread beyond the wooded areas. It was at this time the Chángnǚ split into several different lineages of which two remain, the Zuìgāo and Zuìxiǎo.
The proto-Zuìgāo would leave the forests once again and form large social groups that relied on each other to survive. In this environment they would hunt larger creatures which increased their caloric intake, promoting the growth of their mental faculties. These early nomadic groups would discover tool usage, securing their place towards the top of the food chain.
Simultaneously, the proto-Zuìxiǎo would remain in the older forests that survived the warm period in Gōngjiān history. This provided them security and ample food, but the lack of any challenge in their domination of this environment stunted their mental development. Though they would become smarter with time, even the current Zuìxiǎo are far more simple and animalistic than the Zuìgāo.
Finality of Form
At some point in their past, the proto-Zuìgāo discovered the benefits of agriculture and slowly shifted away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Upon coming back into contact with the proto-Zuìxiǎo that hid in the forests and thinking of them as novel things, they would barely pay them any heed at that time. Eventually, however, it was discovered that proto-Zuìxiǎo blood was sweet tasting and that they could be taught simple tool usage and labor.
Large numbers of proto-Zuìxiǎo were rounded up from the forests and from that point on, found at any proto-Zuìgāo settlement. Their use as a labor force grew over time and their remains today can be found anywhere from a single-family home to larger, abandoned living areas. As the proto-Zuìgāo continued to mentally develop and rely on the proto-Zuìxiǎo for physical labor and activities, their evolutionary forms would begin to reach their present-day equivalent.
Zuìgāo groups wandered as hunter-gatherers for an extended period when compared to the developmental history of other planar sophonts. With the Zuìxiǎo being used to hunt and gather for them, the Zuìgāo were able to start specializing before the advent of agriculture and livestock.
The Zuìgāo developed animal husbandry earlier than agriculture due to their experience with selectively breeding the Zuìxiǎo and maintaining their population. As various grains, fruits, vegetables, lichens, and vines entered their diets however it did not take long for agriculture to develop and become a mainstay.
Further tool development allowed for additional specialization within the populace. Small tribal bands increased in number as they claimed land for themselves, with the tribes congregating together to form small communities. As this progression continued, life improved for the Zuìgāo but the living conditions of the Zuìxiǎo was not of major importance.
Transition to Civilization
With their numerous forms of livestock, growing numbers of Zuìxiǎo and more and more Zuìgāo being able to dedicate themselves to specialized roles, they found themselves starting to live more sedentary lifestyles. The Zuìgāo's path to tribal-grounds giving way to the first permanent settlements developing came about rather naturally.
As Zuìgāo settlements increased in number, the Zuìxiǎo form would find itself being reshaped. Writing systems, husbandry science and growing needs would allow the Zuìgāo to continue increasing the capabilities of their evolutionary cousins. However, this also came at a cost of causing the Zuìgāo to question the state of their existence. With their eyes turned inwards, an explosion of Zuìgāo philosophical thoughts and practices arose which started a surge of self-realization and self-improvement. Meditation and martial arts were seen as ways a Zuìgāo could reach the pinnacle of their physical and spiritual forms as well as securing their place above the Zuìxiǎo. This desire to separate themselves as much as possible from the Zuìxiǎo was one of the reasons for the Zuìgāo embracing mental activities more so than physical ones.
Though many say we are born the best, to know that lie is to look at the blade: it is forged to be perfect but without care, it will fall into disrepair. We are the same way. We exist as potential, but only upon forging that potential into something great can a Zuìgāo say that he is better. Study and sharpen the mind, honing your mental self. Train and build your body, honing your physical self. Through both selves being better, then you can be the best.
Proverb from Guoctli Lanzli, Famous Zuìgāo Elf Philosopher
Almost arising as a counterpoint to self-improvement came the dualistic philosophical tenet that a Zuìgāo owes it upon himself to improve society. Developments lead to early forms of bureaucratic institutions being established. To reward diligence, loyalty, and hard work these systems developed a merit system. This ensured that members could increase their standing based on their ability to perform a job, rather than on their political connections. The effectiveness of the system would enter every part of Zuìgāo society causing comprehensive increases in areas such as education, law, the military, magic, and government.
The Zuìgāo strive to be the best amongst the best. Though many of their nations would have rigid and extensive legal and social requirements, by enforcing these upon themselves the Zuìgāo have found themselves more capable of recovering from every instance of war, famine, plague, and pestilence in their history.
Though there are a variety of other ethnic groups that originated on other worlds, there are a few that are known to have developed originally on Gōngjiā and thus hold a special, historical status to the Zuìgāo as a people. This is by no means a complete list, instead being a shortened list including the most prominent, largest or well known ethnicities of which members can still be found.
Dàimǎ De Fěnsī
Those Zuìgāo Elves who either don't belong to a cultural group or wish to not be associated with one are known as Dàimǎ De Fěnsī. This is the assumed cultural group a Zuìgāo Elf belongs to unless otherwise stated.
Originating from the land around Cōr and its river delta region, also known as the "Thousand River Land", the Cōr Zún are a prolific people, hearty and resolute. Originally sailors of the Cōr river, they became astute traders and masters of mercantile on waters the world over.
Moving beyond simple riverboats, they took to the sea in attempts to further the reach of their merchant guilds and trademasters. Despite this, they never fancied being explorers, rather hoping to take advantage of opportunities laid bare instead of creating them themselves.
The Cōr Zún are typically shorter but wider set than other Zuìgāo, with a darker complexion being common. Darker hair colors are typically found and their bodies having lighter amounts of body hair. They tend to be more adept at absorbing nutrients from food, with their opportunistic hematophagy coming into play with fish.
One of the several steppe peoples on Gōngjiā, the Yěshòu Bàojūn pride themselves on their nomadic lifestyle. Tough, durable and proud, they value simplicity, decisiveness, and the lives of their animals highly.
The Yěshòu Bàojūn tend to be tall and brawny but lighter in both skin tone and hair colors. They are known for being hairier than others, with extensive facial hair being common. Being around a variety of animals constantly has increased their resistance to disease and general hardiness.
Known for being capable riders, their skills in raising, training and using various beasts allowed them to make their mark on Gōngjiān history. Relying on their own hands and the work of the beasts they control, the Yěshòu Bàojūn don't think much for politics or religion.
Hailing from a cold and mountainous region, the Tǎ Jiànzhú are well known for their incredible architectural works. Architects of massive and sprawling castles, fortresses and towers high above the mountain peaks, they are often thought of being the ones on the crown of the world.
The Tǎ Jiànzhú tend to be thin and lithe, relying more on endurance than outright power to survive. Thinner air has caused their bodies to become better at using oxygen, increased blood flow and higher capacity for exercise.
A very spiritual people, meditation and self-reflection are major parts of the Tǎ Jiànzhú culture. A Tǎ Jiànzhú proverb is: "Your home and body are one." They take great pride in cleanliness, maintenance, and self-expression, often decorating their homes and bodies to a great extent.
Named after the birthplace of their culture, the Fěicuì Mù are recognized for having closer ties to nature. Coming from a region filled with dense forests dotted with lakes inspired them to admire the beauty around them and how to best utilize it without destroying it.
With extensive pursuits in forest farming, agroforestry and navigating through rough terrain, the Fěicuì Mù are known for making some of the best scouts, pathfinders, and explorers on Gōngjiā. Though many have adapted to living around others, a hermit with a Fěicuì Mù upbringing surprises nobody.
The Fěicuì Mù tend to be average-sized in both weight and height, though they may be typically darker-skinned. They tend to have lighter hair colors and quite a bit more hair than others. Though unsure of the genetic significance, it isn't uncommon for those with Fěicuì Mù heritage to be double-jointed or contortion like flexibility.
Originally a derogative term, the Zhīzhūchī embraced the term and made it their own. Growing out of a tropical region that includes jungles, island chains and more than a few volcanoes, these Zuìgāo have lived in one of the more harsh yet biodiverse regions on Gōngjiā.
Having to survive in this region of their world has led the Zhīzhūchī to adapt things that other Zuìgāo may consider primitive. It has also granted them an extensive amount of poisons and herbs which, in a combination of having to traverse quietly through the jungles of their homelands has made them stealthy and excellent guerilla fighters.
Leaning towards being shorter than other Zuìgāo, the Zhīzhūchī also tend to be the most inclined towards being muscular and having thicker frames. Culturally no certain hair colors or skin tones seem to be prevalent. Zhīzhūchī do still live up to their name and will generally eat things that other Zuìgāo wouldn't touch.
Home in a land of steppes, barrens, and tundras, the Liúdònluò are known for following migrating herds of beasts throughout the Gōngjiān year. This has caused them to have less access to features more commonly found in stationary settlements, giving them a less civilized demeanor.
Living simple, tough lives have seemingly tempered their minds as Zuìgāo who are members of the Liúdònluò are more likely to develop latent psionic abilities. They uniquely have the trait of producing the most psionically capable Zuìgāo. Tied with strong survival sense and wilderness survival skills, more than a share of noble houses have tried to have Liúdònluò in their courts and armies, despite them being less civilized than other cultures.
Coming from a colder climate, the Liúdònluò are naturally more inclined to have more body fat and thus be slightly larger, though they also tend to be more short and squat. It is very uncommon for them to have hair colors outside of blacks and browns. They also do well in both hot and cold climates, though their native lands are definitely on the colder side.
A people without a specific homeland, the Wūshīmen have claimed their place as being more inclined to intellectual pursuits and a preternatural mastery of the arcane arts. Accepted everywhere and commonly found in the libraries of kings, universities of empires or their place of study.
When the Zuìgāo discovered arcane magic it was something they as a people seemed to adapt to naturally, but certain groups of people pushed themselves and their offspring to be better, smarter and more capable than the common man. To achieve these goals these groups of people banded together and formed the first Wūshīmen conclaves, leading to the first instances of their culture developing.
While they are the frailest of the Zuìgāo, they also tend to have the least amount of body hair and complexion. Simultaneously being amongst the tallest and the thinnest Zuìgāo leads them to have very gaunt appearances. The Wūshīmen also tend to have the most desire for Zuìxiǎo blood in their diets with many claiming that it is vital to their health and vitality.
A numerous people that originally thrived in a region of Gōngjiā consisting of plains, swamps and forests, the Gēhésī Chóu were the first to master sericulture and are known for producing the best Gōngjiān silk. Elaborate decorations and garments play an important part in their culture.
A tall and lithe people, the Gēhésī Chóu work hard to not be physically weak with meditation and martial arts playing a more important role in their culture than other Zuìgāo. Red hair tends to be common amongst their number and to many is a mark of someone being one of the Gēhésī Chóu.
Though not violent by nature, their pursuit of martial arts makes them well respected and it is not unusual for a Gēhésī Chóu to be sought out to lead a kwoon and become their shifu. Art is also a highly respected pastime with many Gēhésī Chóu practicing some sort of artistic craft. Gēhésī Chóu designers often are the setters of popular fashion amongst the Gōngjiān rich and elite.
The Hushā lands are made up of a region of intense volcanic activity, making their lands both very dangerous and having some of the best soil for farming. The Hushā Zún are known for being ample farmers and rugged survivalists.
Used to having to rebuild in their lands, the Hushā Zún have less attachment to the material things of the world, alternatively focusing on meditation, devotion to the Divine Children and philosophy. They are also known for having the most remembered storytellers through Gōngjiān history. Being considered the best farmers on Gōngjiā, their treatises and theories on the subject are highly valued.
Short, muscular, and wide, the Hushā Zún are also known for their darker complexions and more exotic hair colors. It isn't uncommon for some Zuìgāo to actively despise the Hushā Zún due to their less harsh views of their Zuìxiǎo, but that doesn't mean they are less likely to have them work their fields.
The most ostracized Zuìgāon culture, the Núlìjiātíng as they are called are defined singularly by their hatred of keeping Zuìxiǎo as slave-laborers and instead treating them as equals. The Núlìjiātíng Zuìxiǎo are the smartest of their kind.
As a culture based around beliefs and philosophies more than an area of Gōngjiā, the Núlìjiātíng don't have a distinct physical appearance associated with them. As can be expected, since the Núlìjiātíng have a more egalitarian mindset they consume the blood of other things to sate their hematophagic needs in place of the consumption of bloodwine.
While the Núlìjiātíng may be the subjects of ridicule and despised on Gōngjiā, they take great solace in knowing that offworld, many Zuìgāo are starting to see things in a similar light. They often try to make changes where they can on Gōngjiā and given the number of Zuìgāo returning to their homeplane with new experiences, the process will only get easier with time.
Refer to Cultural Details
Amongst the Planes
Given that they are one of the founding members of the first Planar Alliance and have been known about since before the First Age, everyone has at least heard of the Zuìgāo Elves. Though seen as respectable, many will often joke that their kind has arrogance as a genetic trait, given their tendency to exhibit bouts of egotism and narcissism.
Known for excelling in mental acuity, problem-solving, and organizational tasks it is not unusual for a Zuìgāo Elf to do well in positions of governmental office or working in other economic roles. Many merchant's guilds can owe their continued existence to very talented but shrewd Zuìgāo Elven bookkeepers. On many worlds, they would be sought out for these types of roles by nobles or governments looking to potentially hire qualified individuals on a racial basis.
Across the planes, many only accept the keeping of Zuìxiǎo Elven "slaves" in passing with the Zuìgāo Elves constantly citing differences between keeping their wards and actual slavery. Some planes have outright banned the keeping of Zuìxiǎo, upsetting more culturally conservative Zuìgāo Elves and often leaving the Zuìxiǎo displaced and without any recourse or place in society.
Keeping Zuìxiǎo is a connection we keep with Gōngjiā regardless of what plane we are on. It is our right as Zuìgāo. They are not slaves, whipped and treated poorly! We did not claim their lives in battle, taking them away from their families. They were raised to be this way. How many lesser beings have you slaughtered and purged from your worlds? At least ours still exist.
Shao Zi, a famous Zuìgāo Elven diplomat on the discussion of outlawing slaves, including Zuìxiǎo
The Zuìgāo Elves are known as arrogant, self-centered and narcissistic so it is commonly brought up in an insulting manner by other sophonts. Other slurs come from their typical physical reliance on their Zuìxiǎo Elf slaves, at its most extreme commenting on how they can't physically function on their own. Xīxuèguǐ is an insult commonly used by Zuìgāo that don't imbibe Zuìxiǎo blood towards those that do.