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The Peshka, also known as the Pesh, are one of my races I made that show up in a few of my settings, because I shamelessly have favorites amongst my fictional species. They change a bit from setting to setting but this is their current form.
The Peshka are diminutive humanoid rabbits, averaging only slightly taller than four feet not including their ears. As one would expect from rabbit-based people they have exceptional senses and are quick on their feet, but are also very frail and are less physically imposing than nearly all other civilized races. Short fur covers their bodies, coming in a wide variety of natural colors. All members of the species have long ears. Some have ears that stand straight up and can swivel around, while others have them simply flop to the sides.
Peshkan diets are almost entirely vegetarian, though this is more a facet of their culture and available resources than their actual physiology. They can subsist on nothing but plant matter just fine, but are actually omnivorous. Pesh that live in more undeveloped or wild areas have to take advantage of whatever food they can get, and often this includes a bit of animal protein. Incidentally, those Peshka often grow quite a bit larger and bulkier than their more civilized counterparts and have to deal with different health issues.
The true origin of the Pesh are unknown, with dozens of theories floating around about their creation and very little evidence to imply one above the other. Some believe they were humans cursed with frail rabbit forms, or rabbits ascended to humanoid status. Those who would look down on the Pesh often believe their race was created as a joke by some forgotten trickster god, or as a failed wizardly experiment.
Whatever the case is, the Peshka were always considered a pesky vermin race for most of their existence, much like orcs or goblins would be in other fantasy settings. They populate the wide plains of the Buyan peninsula as well a isolated warrens scattered in the lands of more prominent races. Constant conflict and predation by monsters and even sentient races prevented them from progressing socially or technologically. Their own religion during this time emphasized complacency and acceptance of their lowly place in the world.
During this time, a single deity named Providence ruled over the world, directly bringing order and shaping all of existence the way he saw fit. Eventually Providence disappeared and caused a massive change in the world order. This event had tremendous global consequences, but for now we will solely focus on the Pesh. This change in the world order was not a positive experience for the Peshka. Ambitious nations of Humans, Ulfhednar and even some monstrous races expanded into the Peshkan homeland, easily colonizing their home with minimal resistance. Powerful individuals ranging from vampires to true wizards set up their hideouts, utilizing the feeble Pesh for whatever purpose they desired.
Most expected the Pesh to remain a minor footnote in history. However, the occupation of their homeland catalyzed a critical change in the Peshka society that led to their ascension. Their lives were revolutionized by the technology and magic that their conquerors brought to their lands,. More importantly they absorbed the ambitious worldview of the outsiders, and before long the docile Pesh became enamored with the idea that there was something more for them out there than their current existence at the low end of the world order. The puppet rulers established by their overlords became influential among their own people, and used their influence to unify their kin against their lieges. Humanity was the first to acquiesce to Peshkan cries for independence, being so stretched thin by their own struggles that it was seen as a dangerous waste of resources to crush the discontent in the area, instead opting to peacefully allow their subjects to be free. The other races along with the monsters and mighty individuals of the realm did not think the Pesh as anything close to approaching a true threat. They tried to use force to contain their subjects.
Though the Peshka adopted many ideas from across the world, the one thing they did not pick up on was their various senses of tribal and chivalric honor. To the leaders of the Peshkan independence movements, the honor of the other cultures was seen as an instrument the strong could use to prevent the weak from resisting. In a fair fight the mighty nations and beasts that currently held the Pesh lands and could easily defeat the feeble rabbits, but the Pesh did not fight fair. Ancient tradition fell by the side as the Pesh levered any tactical, technological or magical advantage they had access to. The conflicts were long and bloody as the Pesh were still severely disadvantaged in many areas and their enemies pridefully refused to believe that the rabbits had the power to oust them even as the rabbits claimed victories against them.
Eventually, the sides were so worn out by war that the pride and patriotism of the combatants had to be swallowed and a truce was to be signed. The uprising was not as decisive as the Pesh would have hoped and major parts of their homeland remained under foreign control. Still, the bulk of Buyan was free, and the Pesh were able to control their own destiny.
This was not the end of hardship for the Pesh. Their species only had large nations until recently, having been used to smaller tribes for millenia. In addition the instability of the recent revolution as well as their species varied and conflicting subcultures led many attempts at unifying the Peshka to failure.
The wild Peshka are the people that primarily reside in the harshest regions of the Buyan peninsula, where the reach of the foreign empires has been the weakest. Existing as rarely unified tribes, the wild Pesh continue their eternal struggle against nature and against each other. Though they live similarly to how their species did before their upheaval they are still marked by the transformation the rest of their species has undergone, and anyone looking to take advantage of them will be met with incredible resistance. They live off the land and prefer to reside in simple burrows and wardens and do not have any form of heavy industry, but make use of things such as metalcraft and simple works of engineering when the needs suit them. Though they do not take advantage of all the convenience of civilized life, they still retain the knowledge of how the other races operate which they use to their advantage. Their tribal leaders are masterful tacticians, able to apply their limited forces to great effect against superior foes. In addition they make heavy use of magic, and their new pantheon of gods grant them blessings and protection. Due to the aforementioned diets of the wild Pesh, the denizens of the woods and mountains tend to be larger and stockier than their brethren.
Buyan is a Peshkan nation that spans a large portion of its namesake landmass. When Buyan was occupied just after the fall of Providence, the occupying forces often set up puppet rulers drawn from the populace. While this originally was done to ease administration and reduce the amount of disruptive contact the natives would have with their conquerors these offices and noble lines still hold merit today. The current Princes and Boyars ruling these lands are descendants of those first puppet rulers. Buyan is a loose federation of these independent entities, still resistant to the idea that any one group would be able to rule over their ancient homes, though willing to cooperate with one another for the greater good. Those that still worship Providence have their strongest followings here.
The Low Empire is a powerful nation and the most expansionistic of the Peshkan political entities. The Empire was founded by a vassal Prince who not only overthrew the Ulfhednar that conquered his homeland, but also subdued neighboring Peshkan settlements by expert political maneuvering and military force. Already larger than most other independent Peshkan factions, the Prince desired more. The existence of the large caverns of the subterranean world was known to many, but remained unutilized by most of the world due to the inherent dangers of the place and its inhospitality to most of the other civilizations. Utilizing the momentum from the liberation as well as the rabbits natural proclivity to underground life, his newly established Low Empire pacified large swathes of tunnels and caverns to establish the largest civilized underground nation currently in existence. The Low Empire overcomes the Peshkan political instability by being a centralized autocracy. The citizens are trained to be fervent patriots and xenophobes, and any entities that risk subverting the established order are removed by the black-coated secret police known as the Oprichniki. Even now the Low Empire expands underneath the feet of the other nations, hoping to establish a state so powerful that the Peshka would never again risk suffering under the heel of a foreign boot, at the cost of oppression under the Emperor’s iron fist.
Originally the Peshka were given some minor angels to worship to, as they were seen as unfit to grace Providence directly with their prayers. They prayed for safety, health and other common benedictions, but were otherwise directed to find contentment with their way of life and place in the universe.
When Providence fell, the invaders swooped into Buyan, bringing with them foreign gods. The un-bound Peshkan angels were never closer to being at one with their people, but at the same time never so far. As the rabbits began to learn from the outsiders and grow ambitious and discontent, so too did their patrons. Their deities assisted their people from behind the scenes, using what little existed of their divine power to select heroes and grant fortune. With the assistance of their wisdom and guile, the Pesh were free and reunited with their pantheon.
The Peshka worship their post-Providential deities like most other races do, accepting many as their patrons but generally selecting one to venerate above the others. Prayers, sacrifices and rituals would be dedicated to whichever god was most relevant in the situation. Though the Peshka worship many gods, even some foreign ones, there are two that the Pesh put above all others.
Gibel is the old god of nature, death and the Sun. He comes in the appearance of a blinding white skeletal hare, sometimes depicted with a scythe and either a wide brimmed hat or a garment of flowers. His holy symbol is the form of a solar wheel, having 6 or 8 spokes and sometimes with an animal skull in the center. For the Pesh, he bridges the divide between the old world and the new. He shows the Pesh that, even for all that has changed, they are still the same people they always were. They are children of the field and forest, and their greatest strengths were not magic or steel, but the very traits they have been born with.. He appreciates celerity, awareness and quickness of wit. Those that especially please him are blessed with the form of a jackalope, granting them protection from natural dangers well as honing their inborn abilities to superhuman levels.
Chernabog is the other major deity and opposite of Gibel in many ways; a god of civilization, learning, darkness, the Moon. He was a very minor deity at first, but as education and industry became pivotal to the Peshka he eventually turned into one of the most important patrons of his people. When his patrons look up at the moon they see his image, seeing the dark splotches on its surface as the image of a rabbit hammering at an anvil. As such, lunar crescents, anvils, blacksmith tools and images of the moon rabbit are all considered his important icons. He comes in the form of a shadowy rabbit with silver tools, sometimes wearing a smith’s apron. He personally embodies the Peshka, a nobody who has become an important figure through the power of inventiveness, tenacity and ingenuity. He appreciates good craftsmanship and requests artisans to inscribed with his symbol so that he may cherish his people’s industry. All those who call themselves his priests are expected to dedicate themselves to mastery of at least one craft. Due to his bond with the moon his holy material is silver, a substance that his followers craft into divine tools to destroy evil.