Imps - “demon spawn”?

The place of Imps in Rivellon society has always been problematic, and a new publication from the Department of Culture at the University of the Seven Gods may serve to muddy the waters even further.

Professor Lorem Ipsimus’ new book, titled Children of Gods, Spawn of Demons, compares Rivellon’s somewhat ambivalent view of Imps with the decidedly negative outlook of the mysterious Raanaar of Nemisis.

Much of the Nemisis material comes from the experience of paladin Sir Harry D’Esmayed, gleaned during his struggles to escape from the dungeons of that world and return to Rivellon. Time spent in an Imp village and in the former Raanaar Academy provided Sir Harry with a unique insight, which he shared with the professor over a period of several months. His tendency to be something of a pack rat also helped; he brought to Rivellon invaluable books and manuscripts, which are now housed in the USG library.

In the beginning...

Rivellon recognizes Imps as one of the original six races, along with Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, and the Lizard People. (1) Their creation is attributed to Xantezza, Goddess of mirth and laughter, who, legends say, gifted the Imp race with talents as magicians and engineers. To many citizens of Ferol, Imps are somewhat exotic creatures, viewed as both inquisitive and acquisitive, and counting the great Antx among their numbers.

Nemisis, however, teaches a different lesson. In The Birth of the Raanaar, author Rashasam, a Priestess of Raan, claims:

Back in the distant past… the gods and demons fought long and hard for their share of the hearts and minds of the creatures that emerged from the primordial soup beneath them. Where their blood fell, new races sprung forth. When the God Arharis struck out with his great sword… and slashed the thick, scaly skin of the ancient arch-demon Morlock, the resulting drops of blood (for it was only a mere scratch to the demon) gave birth to the Imp race. As Morlock struck back with his trident of flame, he caught Arharis a glancing blow across the neck and, as his blood fell, so the race of the humans came into being.

Needless to say, this view— Imps as demon-spawn—was used to justify the enslavement and persecution of Imps on Nemisis. Professor Ipsimus also cites evidence (2) that any relationship between Raanaar and Imps other than master - servant was strictly discouraged.

“Training” manuals, such as The Good Imp Guide, further reinforced the lowly position of the race. Imps held as servants in the Raanaar Academy were treated little better than domestic animals, and were expected to perform menial tasks without complaint. There are some indications of an ill-fated attempt by these virtual slaves to form a union to better their lot, but the documentation is sparse.

Village life

In their own villages, the Imps of Nemisis appear as intelligent, industrious, and sociable, if somewhat superstitious. A tribal race, headed by Chieftans and guided by Shamans, they abandoned early blood sacrifices (3) in favour of more symbolical tributes to their leaders, but as Sir Harry learned, many expressed a wish to restore the old ways when danger threatened the community.

Chieftan's house, Imp village, Nemisis The Chieftan’s house, Imp Village, Nemisis
The mushroom influence is strongly evident.

Mushrooms (both farmed and wild) and floogefrogs form the backbone of Imp village economy, and also play a major role in their artistic endeavours. The mushroom, for example, provides the standard design for Imp homes. Both mushrooms and flooge products, such as butter and cheese, form important parts of Imp cuisine.

When the time comes for celebration, Imps are quick to assemble on the Commons and indulge in merriment. They favour such classics as the Floogefrogian Rhapsody and Love Beneath the Mushrooms, as, with whoobpipes and jumjum fiddles, they revel in music and dance.

Leaving conclusions to the reader, Professor Ipsimus contrasts the apparent passivity of the Nemisis Imps with the fierce, warlike behaviour of some of Rivellon’s own Imp tribes, noting that spiders and mushrooms are elements common to both cultures. While in Nemisis, spiders are lovingly raised by farmers, and mushrooms are enjoyed in myriad culinary delights, Imps in Rivellon consider both to be implements of war: spiders to carry their warriors to battle; mushrooms to provide the poisons best suited to their targets (4).

He notes in closing that he has found little evidence to suggest Rivellon’s Imps follow the trades of magic and engineering as their legendary origins would suggest, but even less that the Imps of Nemisis possess demonic tendencies. Nonetheless, he concedes that the race is still viewed with suspicion in both worlds, and there is much to be done to educate the other races about the realities of Imp existence.

Notes and references:
(1) Wizards, of course, have special status as the people of the Seventh God.
(2) Forbidden Love [USG Library collections]
(3)How Our Ancestors Made Sacrifices, Durbatix [USG Library collections]
(4)Mushrooms - Your Little Friends, Part 2 - Warfare [USG Library collections]

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