“I dinnae know how thay do things on yer world, bit bein' hated ‘n’ hunted doon by beings far older ‘n’ more powerful than us may have something to do wi' th' makin' of the ‘bevvy… alcohol.”
— A Bone Skink comparing their history with a Human over beer
The Bone Skinks are one of the original races of the Planar Council, having been members since its first incarnation and hold the honor of being the first species that Humanity encountered outside of their own plane. They are generally seen as a hard-working but carefree people which certainly can come across as contradictory to some. To them, successful and well-lived lives are one where they worked hard and enjoyed their free time as much as possible. “Work hard, play hard” is an adage that applies to most Bone Skinks, regardless of their upbringing.
While the Bone Skinks are now the primary sophonts on Sgèileàite, that was not always the case. Thousands of years before they evolved into their present form, the plane was ruled over by a sentient race of serpents the Bone Skinks refer to as the “Seannathair” (Grandfather Snakes). If it wasn’t for the actions of these serpent-men, the Laghairt-bonn (Lizard foot) wouldn’t exist today.
The Bone Skinks started off as one of the first races in the proto-Trigate universe but were just simply “the lizardmen” at that time. As the universe expanded and many of the different species started to break down into different types of things, I knew that I somehow wanted to create “Scottish” lizardmen. Tartans, kilts, clans and everything else generally stereotypically associated with the Scots.
I began worldbuilding their existence by initially coming up with a couple of things I knew I ideally wanted them to have:
- A cultural reason for them to have clans or some other family unit.
- A reason they could withstand colder temperatures.
- The decorative head frill.
Working backwards, I thought that it would make the most sense if they somehow had evolved in a colder environment. After all it is all speculative so nothing says that reptiles need to be confined to warm environments. I did some investigation in the encyclopedia and found that while you have beings that are endotherms (warm-blooded) and ectotherms (cold-blooded), you also have mesotherms, an intermediate thermoregulatory strategy. The debate as to whether dinosaurs were ectotherms or mesotherms has been going on for some time evidently, so that added some points in my mind that you could have mesothermic reptiles.
Next I needed to come up with a reason why their cultures and societies would promote sticking together. I wrote down a few different reasons but ultimately decided that staying together for safety was probably the best bet in the context of creating cultures and would also provide ample story potential. What would they need to be safe from? The cold?
The thing that would tie everything together (outside of the decorative head frill) would actually come to me in a literal fever dream. I was really sick and remember waking up and writing what I could remember down!
On their world that they evolved on, there existed a species of intelligent serpent men who were sensitive to the cold as reptiles normally are. The world then was warmer, but entire latitudes were unavailable to their kind due to the temperature differences. These beings were very adept with some sort of magic however and came to the conclusion that they would complete an intense ritual that would move their world closer to the sun, warming it to better suit their preferences. However the ritual not only failed but ended up causing the opposite to happen.
The world, now colder due to their attempts to further their reach, would become even more hostile to them and cause the majority of their species to die off. By the time the Laghairt-bonn evolved into what they are now, the Seannathair that remained would be few, ancient, and utterly consumed by hatred.
As you can imagine, this has had its own effect on the cultures of the Bone Skinks. Some cultures view snakes in a superstitious light whereas others view the Seannathair as interesting curiosities. For instance, the Tobhta Mhuinntir (Ruin Folk) on Sgèileàite:
Tobhta Mhuinntir, the Ruin Folk
There are entire regions where Seannathairic ruins litter the landscape, long abandoned by their old ophidian creators and left to rot. The Laghairt-bonn who developed here are known as Tobhta Mhuinntir and have a deeper respect and understanding for the Seannathair than most. As a cultural whole, they tend to have a fascination with serpents instead of an aversion. They will still fight the Seannathair should one make an appearance, but the superstition of serpents isn’t as prevalent.
The Tobhta Mhuinntir are also known as the authority of Seannathairic artifacts and are known to have figured out several of their oldest arcane spells. While a deeper understanding of their enemy has helped them survive, many question the loyalties of the Tobhta Mhuinntir to the point where they may be ostracized by other cultures.
Tobhta Mhuinntir have stocky, shorter builds and tend to have larger eyes. The areas they lived in ran the gamut between desolate and pleasant as there were numerous Seannathair ruins everywhere. The ruins could be anything from old farmland to massive, dead cities.
I’m really proud of what the Bone Skinks ended up as and they are easily one of my personal favorites of all the worldbuilt species I’ve worked on. I really wanted to get away from the stereotypical Scottish Dwarf you see everywhere. Instead, on one of the planes in the Planar Council and beyond, you might just find yourself sharing a dark lager with a Laghairt-bonn over a game of cards and a bowl of mushroom salad.
“Us Laghairt-bonn have been extremely lucky wit’ the fact that we’ve never ‘ad to take ourselves too seriously.”
— Councillor Effie Dòmhnullach