Brownie ethnic groups, much like their counterparts in many other places, are mainly an illusion. For the last several thousand years, Brownies have paid very little attention to the differences in appearance among them in political or official matters, and the differences are now purely aesthetic. They pay much more attention to which tribe someone belongs to; whether they come from one of the Akdorian tribes, from the Vale, from Aeruillin, or from one of the so-called "lost tribes" (such as the Milken). They for the most part despise and ignore the Rat Brownies, who are so far lost that they are no longer considered true Brownies in polite society. Within the Vale itself the Brownie's Clan is what distinguishes them and gives them identity, although it is not uncommon for skin colours to play a part in referring to a Brownie.

In short, appearance is viewed as appearance, nothing more. Generally, a Brownie will be a shade somewhere between the shades of his two parents, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule, making for some good surprises when a new Brownie is born. Some effort is being put into researching this weird phenomenon in the Vale, and it is one of the reasons for the yearly counting during the Festival of the Weighing of the Uruyant. Information on the skin colours in each family is collected then, and this is an invaluable resource to researchers.

 The Brownie Colourings. Brownie colourings can be categorized as follows;

Rat Brownies are not included in these descriptions, as you may have noticed. Their lifestyle in the sewers, far away from the light of day, has changed them in unexpected ways. Many mutations have taken place and each Rat Brownie tribe is ethnically unique. They are also no longer viewed as true Brownies, even though some tribes still retain an uncanny resemblance. They have turned their backs on the Brownie beliefs and ideals and turned to worshipping the dark spirits instead of the good. This, rather than their strange appearance, banishes them from the true Brownie race. Return to the top

Myth and Lore. There are many older myths and stories which have been used for generations to explain why Brownies are different colours and where these come from. They are no longer considered as true by those who are investigating the matter, but many everyday Brownies still hold on to them. The scholars themselves believe this is due to the old-fashioned beliefs and ideals of the general populous, whilst the general populous simply refuse to reject their traditional explanations in favour of the vague suspicions the scholars put forward.

The entire selection can be cumulated into one myth, and although this is rarely recited as a whole any longer as its message goes against the Llaoihrr ideal of unity and equality. It is in fact an extension to the creation myth, probably created some time during the Birni era as a reason why the different colourings should keep to their separate jobs and justifies some being above the rest. It is worth mentioning here only because most of the modern superstitions about skin colours originally come from it.

When the Tree of Life was struck by lightening and split and its charred bark metamorphosed into the first 272 Brownies, they were all alike. Imbued with its magic and power, but naïve in the ways of the world itself, the newly created creatures began the long struggle to teach themselves how to survive. And because they couldn’t all learn every skill necessary to them, the Brownies took different jobs; some began to work and gather food, some to hunt, some to make houses and other things they would need, some to explore the tree’s power which still ran through them, and some to organise the rest.

Two years passed and the Brownies learnt to work as a group, each of them contributing their particular skills. However, they began to notice that they were no longer all the same colour – the knowledge was changing their skin as their spirit warmed to the new role within the clan. Those Brownies who had been working with wood gradually turned the colour of it, from a light greeny-brown of a newly-cut twig to the deep rich finish of a completed piece. The organisers turned green, thoughts blowing through their heads like the leaves on the trees, and the hunters began to take on an unnatural tone; grey, yellow or even blue. This was their price for taking the life of their prey. However, those who had stuck closest to their true roots retained their original redish tint, as well as the Life Tree's magic.

From this comes the idea that Greenbarks have the quickest brains, Brownbarks the steadiest hands and Greybarks and Bluebarks the sharpest eyes. However, Yellowbarks are considered the best travellers, which may steam from another version of the myth. It used to be thought that a Brownie's colour was the spirit's way of showing what the Brownie would excel at most, and although this is still widely true it no longer limits the Brownie's choice of occupation. Working hard to achieve something despite a lack of natural talent is considered just as admirable as having it in the first place. Return to the top

Barkstudy ("rraoLLeh"). Now a well known subject for study wherever a large enough group of Brownies is present, “rraoLLeh” or “Barkstudy” is the inverstigation of how Brownie characteristics are passed down the generations. The Milken, Memnoor and especially the Llaoihrr all have groups of scholars dedicated to this fascinating subject. The name comes from the original focus of the research: Brownie Colourings.

Leatherleaf lived around 1000 b.S. and was the founder of Barkstudy. He was the first one to observe and provide proof that the colour of a Brownie’s skin was anything more than random, and the fundamental law which governs the study still bares his name.

Leatherleaf’s Law: “A Brownie's colouring is not random and instead depends on colourings in the familiy's history.”

He also produced and recorded a series of theories, which also still retain his name. These have formed the basis of study since its revival around 100 a.S. The man who was once condemned as anything from crazy to eccentric was finally hailed as a genius and researchers began to investigate the truth behind his ideas.

Below are three the theories of Leatherleaf’s which are still widely accepted within the scholarly community, plus the new Greybark theory. There were originally at least five of Leatherleaf’s, but the others were disproved and stricken from the records.


[1] Ebonybark and Birchbark have traditionally been considered as separate, rather rare colourings, but they are now widely accepted as extremes of the greybark colouring. This is simply due to the difficulty of actually defining the colouring, for at what point does the colouring turn from a normal Greybark to a Birch or Ebony? [Back]

 Date of last edit 12th Singing Bird 1668 a.S.

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