In the beginning, there were the dwarves, the “Children of Stone.” Born of the very earth itself, the dwarves were the first beings to set foot upon (or more correctly, in) Jenneria. The dwarves refer to themselves as khuduk, which means “the People” in their rough tongue.
The elves, the “Children of the Stars” were next. Millennia ago, a vessel crash-landed on this world. The occupants were a race of tall, light-haired beings who called themselves the mawr. With time, the progeny of these survivors spread across the world, some mingling with other races, while others stayed hidden away. This gave rise to two castes of elves; the mawr, descendents of the original refugees, and the adlawiaid, mixed or “low” elves, the children of those who intermingled with other races of Jenneria.
The origins of the elves are shrouded in mystery, even among themselves. They are also known as the Children of the Stars, though no living elf can say why, exactly. In fact, they are not natives of Jenneria. Though the oldest living elf does not remember it, legends are told of an event known as the Arrival, when the first elves came to this world from the very stars themselves. The stars, according to the legend, are actually distant suns, many with other worlds orbiting them. The elves used vessels to travel among the stars, but one of their vessels became damaged and was forced to land on this strange world. Stranded, the occupants tried to survive as best they could. With time, they adapted to their new life. Some even choose to mingle with the native life on this world, while others remained hidden from the eyes of the inhabitants.
Contrary to popular opinion, the legends are true. The original elves were travelers from another world, stranded here when their vessel was damaged and fell from the heavens. Over the resultant generations, the elves have divided themselves into two separate castes. One has strived to remain separate from the natives of this world. They hid themselves away in secret places and even today, remain a source of legend and rumor. The other, who would become known among their brethren as heathens, mingled with the native races, living among them and even breeding with them. Over time, the resultant mingling of bloodlines has produced the elves that most Jennerians are familiar with.
The first caste is that of the mawr, those descended from the first elves to set foot upon Jenneria. In the Olven tongue, mawr means "High Ones," or those who are above others. Few Jennerians ever see the mawr. The keep themselves hidden from the eyes of men, and even from the other races of elves. Superstitions about the mawr abound. The Skåva believe that the mawr (or the elvere in their tongue) are stunningly beautiful, but disease-ridden forest spirits best avoided. Among the Keltoi, mawr are called sidhe, and are other-worldly beings from a distant and magical land. To the Valorans, the fey are a diminutive and shy folk with capricious whims. They have been known to help mortals, but are also said to sometimes steal away children, leaving their own offspring to be raised in their stead.
Physically, the mawr are tall, most top 6 foot, and extremely attractive by human standards. They are also long-lived, with an average lifespan of 1,000 years. They are humanoid, with pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes that are slightly larger than human eyes. They are slender of frame and quite lithe. Their hair ranges from platinum to golden blonde, and their eyes are almost universally ice blue.
The adlawiaid are the elves with whom most Jennerians are familiar. The Olven word adlawiaid means "inferior," and pretty accurately sums up the feelings of the mawr towards their brethren. No adlawiaid is ever welcome in a mawr community, even in desperate times.
The humans were next, known as the “Children of the Gods,” for their creation myths which state that the gods formed them from clay and water, baked then in fire, and then blew the breath of life into the shapes. There are three tribes of humans; the dark-skinned, the light-skinned, and the olive-skinned. Once, they all lived together in relative harmony on a continent called Arcadia. But Arcadia was destroyed in a cataclysm some 2500 years ago, and the three tribes were dispersed throughout the remaining lands. The area where Arcadia once stood is now a swirling permanent storm known only as the Maelstrom.
Some humans displeased the gods and rebelled against them, and these were twisted and malformed, becoming the beast races; the orks, minotaurs, gnolls, goblins, bugbears and the like. They are sometimes called the “Children of Darkness,” but this is strictly a human sobriquet. Few get along with one another, even their own species, and they do not typically form societies so much as loose communities or warbands held together by a powerful leader.
Gnomes are a fey race, distantly related to the elves. The details of their creation are lost to themselves, though many speculate that the dwarves were involved as well (a notion that both elves and dwarves scoff at). The gnomes themselves don’t seem to care overmuch. As they are fond of saying, “We’re here; what more is there to know?”
And then there are the halflings (or as they refer to themselves, the hinfolk). Ask a halfling where the halflings come from, and you’ll get the ubiquitous answer; “A mommy and a daddy love each other very much, and to show just how much they love each other…”
The serpent-folk, or saarkiss’ origins are extraplanar, though a mystery beyond that. As the snake-men are notoriously uncooperative and generally do not permit themselves to be taken prisoner (preferring death), it has proven difficult to learn much about them and their origins.
Just before the destruction of Arcadia, a prophet named Kristos foretold of the coming disaster and led his followers from the shores of Arcadia. He was deified after his death and his followers now practice the Krystaran religion. Krystaranism is one of the two major religions on the world (the other being Pagahi). That isn't to say that other cultures don't have their own gods, but these two beliefs are multicultural.
Among all of the races of Jenneria, the dragons are the most ancient. They were created from the very bones of the earth when the rays of the first dawn split the eternal night and though their glory has faded with the passage of time, it is not diminished. Many races believe the dragons to be immortal, and the dragons themselves do not speak of such things to lesser races. In any case, it is true that they are among the most long-lived of beings.
A dragon is just past its prime as it moves into Great Wyrm stage. Beginning at about 2,000 years (it differs from dragon to dragon), the effects of age begin to show. A dragon of 5,000 years is rare in the extreme and will show its age in the form of lost scales, missing teeth, shriveled wings, and general disrepair. Only one dragon of such extreme age has ever been encountered by anyone who lived to speak of it and this particular wyrm, despite its advanced age, blindness in one eye, and inability to fly, still managed to slay the bulk of a small army before succumbing to their might.
From ancient texts, this was determined to be Ancalaxus the Forge, the great beast that once brought terror to the southern lands and was presumed to have perished thousands of years before. Estimates place his age at 6,000 and some odd years at the time of his defeat. He had lain within his lair, in a state of suspended animation not unlike hibernation, for almost two thousand years, when he was awakened by a thief who stumbled upon the den and, mistaking the dragon's torpor for death, began looting the place.
If a dragon could hibernate for a period measured in thousands of years, there is no way to say how long they can live. It is generally accepted by sages that a dragon will perish somewhere before reaching the age of 8,000 years, but they admit that this is pure speculation, based on the fact that no dragon older than Ancalaxus has ever been encountered. The dragons themselves no doubt know, but they aren't telling. They do have the disconcerting habit of referring to non-draconic species as "mortals," which may be a clue or may simply be arrogance on their part.
It is not even known for certain that they do die. Throughout history, some dragons have simply mysteriously disappeared, but they, like Ancalaxus, may simply be in torpor or they may have left for other parts or simply have been slain by someone who, for whatever reason, did not advertise the deed. Dragon corpses showing extreme aging have never been reported, so it seems plausible that they either do not die, or that they go someplace hidden to perish (like the legendary Elephant's Graveyard of Earth). If such a "Dragon's Graveyard" exists on Jenneria, its existence has never been reported.
In the real world, Jenneria gets its name from its origins. Originally, it was simply a continent where I placed all the "generic" modules from 1E (those that weren't set in an established world). With time, it grew into a world of its own and a campaign world in its own right.