The races of Agarest
The Agarest series is notable for the sheer number of different and easily-confusable races that exist in its universe. It's probably one of the top games in terms of species-diversity of the cast that we have played, and while it probably isn't number one for the overall species count, Agarest has to win some prize for having the most different types of pointy-eared beings that don't actually have clear explanations for distinguishing them, heh. While we're a little confused ourselves, we'll try our best to shed some light on the matter.
The ordinary, run-of-the-mill and - dare we say - boring humans are by far the most commonly found race in the Agarest universe. They're everywhere and they're in control of everything: almost every ruler you meet in Agarest: Generations of War is human (and male). Because racism (and sexism).
Since they outnumber every other race in terms of playable units, it just follows suit that human characters would have very diverse skills and roles. As one would expect, magical proficiency is rarer in humans than in any other race, but that's not to say that humans cannot also be powerful sorcerers: see for example Yayoi, whose magical abilities are legendary, and Ryuryu, who impresses even an Oneltes with her ability to see the future.
The defining trait of humans in the world of Agarest is that they have what we think of as standard, rounded ears and only two eyes (as opposed to three). Another thing of note about humans in the world of Agarest is that almost every other race has a longer lifespan and a slower aging process than humans. In most stories of the high fantasy genre you have, say, elves who live thousands of years, but their longevity doesn't really come into play beyond the occasional reminder to the audience that their perspective of time is so different and so far removed from anything that is human; in such a story as Agarest: Generations of War, which spans five generations, the slow aging of non-human characters can be witnessed directly and is of pivotal importance to the plot for a series of reasons.
There are so many human characters in Agarest: Generations of War that it's really not worth it to list them all, but let's at least mention the playable human characters: Leonhardt, Winfield, Luana, Elaine, Valeria, Yayoi, Noah, Alberti, Hildegard, Ryuryu and Beatrice. Especially notable characters: Leonhardt, for not being able to recognize a bad deal even when it's literally dancing naked in front of him, and Winfield, for making very poor decisions about jewelry.
It is also possible for the descendants of Leonhardt to all be of 100% human lineage, although it requires specific player choices and is somewhat unlikely (for one thing, we wonder why someone would pick Noah over Lavinia or Faina in the third generation).
Elves are a pointy-eared, very long-lived race. They tend to have magical abilities and often seclude themselves in their own forest communities, although some do apparently endure against persecution and live in human-dominated towns as well.
Elven society, however, is not as straightforward as one might think. Elves further divide their population into sub-races, allowing them to discriminate against each other (as if they didn't all experience enough racism from the humans in their world, who generally don't care to distinguish beyond whether or not the ears are pointy).
A small number of elves are considered to be High Elves; they are highly magical and therefore highly respected. They also have the longest lifespan of all elves (although, in the mythical past, it used to be even longer - High Elves could easily live for several thousands of years, like the Ryulents). All playable High Elves of the Agarest universe use Light magic to some degree, and apparently only High Elves are magical enough to summon Larvae to defend themselves in case of grave danger.
High Elves have a somewhat symbiotic relationship with nature and magic. They have a stronger link to nature than other elves, which allows them to draw more magical power; however, this also means that they are bound to places where the nature is pure and the magic runs powerful. Were they to sever the connection and leave these places of power, they would soon fall ill and die.
But what exactly makes a High Elf a High Elf? According to the profile description of Ellis, High Elves
are the pure breed of elf. That could be interpreted to mean that they belong to an uninterrupted lineage that traces back to the gods, which is pretty standard fare for high elves in other fantasy media. However, this doesn't really make any sense in Agarest. First of all, Teonor talks about how Ellis is the last High Elf on the continent - he wouldn't phrase it this way if he was a High Elf as well, so he must be a regular elf. But he is presented as Ellis's grandfather: are they not actually related, or is being a High Elf not due to lineage? Secondly, if being a High Elf inherently means being pure-blooded, it is illogical to talk about someone being half-High-Elf (which happens).
Perhaps being a High Elf simply means possessing a certain set of traits and is not so strictly tied to one's family tree. Perhaps High Elves are just more "holy" than the other elves and closer to the gods; this would mean that any elf that is born might just be so blessed and considered a High Elf. This has problems too though. Maybe we are just ignorant humans, but we have no idea how the other elves are able to distinguish a High Elf solely by sight. All the High Elves in Agarest: Generations of War have either pink or blond hair, but these traits are not exclusive to High Elves, so that doesn't help much. Perhaps elves can detect the High Elves' more powerful magical auras or something to that extent.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Dark Elves, who are greatly feared and harshly discriminated against by other elves. It is believed that Dark Elves are bringers of misfortune, and because of this prejudice, Dark Elves are regularly banished and shunned so that other elves can avoid the evil they are thought to cause. Dark Elves seem to have a somewhat darker complexion than their fairer elf brethren, and might have a proficiency for Dark magic, although that isn't really clear.
Ellis (arguably the main character of Agarest: Generations of War) is a High Elf, and apparently one of the last on her continent. She is an extremely powerful Light magic user and the master of the Larva Borgnine. Another High Elf is Mervis, and, in part due to this status, he is considered the leader of Lus Soleil. Since his daughter Faina takes mostly after him, she is treated as if she were a High Elf despite being of mixed High Elf-Dark Elf descent (lending some weight to the theory that being a High Elf is not so strictly tied to one's bloodline).
Agarest: Generations of War Zero also has a playable High Elf character who looks almost identical to Ellis: Alice. Just like Ellis, she also uses Light magic, and she is the master of a Larva, Galios. Her father is Eleazal, commander in chief of the forces of light, and also a High Elf.
Why does Alice look so much like Ellis, anyway? It's pretty obvious that the reason behind their similarities is that the developers just wanted to have Ellis around again, but it's also true that, since Zero is taking place thousands of years before Agarest: Generations of War, Alice could easily be a distant ancestor of Ellis, especially if we want to believe that being a High Elf is at least somewhat dependent on lineage.
Dark Elves are discriminated against so hard that no pure-blooded Dark Elves even appear in Agarest: Generations of War. Mervis's wife is a Dark Elf, but she has in some way sealed herself to protect her family from discrimination, so we don't get to ever know her name or what she looks like (or what sealing herself even means!). Her daughter Lavinia apparently shares a strong resemblance with her, and so is the only partial clue we get to her appearance, but we can't assume too much since she has High Elf blood as well.
Oddly, regular elves are rarely encountered in the Agarest series, although, presumably, they are more common than the super-special High and Dark Elves. Regular elves are only represented by a few NPCs; in Agarest: Generations of War, the only one with both a name and a portrait is Teonor, Ellis's guardian.
If Thoma marries either Faina or Lavinia, his descendants will have elvish blood: Duran can be a quarter High Elf and a quarter Dark Elf, although which lineage is more visible depends on his mother.
They may look very similar to elves, but Syriums are another completely separate pointy-eared, very long-lived race. All of those seen in Agarest have long ears, pure white skin, silver hair with a violet sheen and blue or violet eyes; these traits seem to be a constant and defining feature of their race. They consider themselves to be "creatures of shadow", so we guess the Syriums are a kind of shadow elf - but are not to be confused with the Dark Elves, which are completely different, of course.
While pretty much all non-human races have suffered some level of oppression at the hands of humans, the persecution that Syriums have to face is especially intense, and its source isn't limited to humans alone; as a result, Syrium cities are located in secluded, easily defensible places, and their society is not welcoming of outsiders. The head of a Syrium settlement is referred to as a chieftain, and overall, Syriums seem to have a sort of a militaristic organization to their society, as a reaction to being constantly attacked by everyone else in the world.
While Syriums might look rather similar to each other, their diversity is in their skills; the playable Syrium characters in Agarest: Generations of War cover radically different roles from each other. They do seem to share a few common skills, though: all of them have superior agility and some sort of magical proficiency, usually in light or dark magic. Considering that their name is spelled in the Heroines Visual Book as Psylliums and that's probably what the developers intended the transliteration to be, you could take the psy in their name to stand for psychic, which would explain their magical bent.
There are four Syrium characters in Agarest: Generations of War: Fyuria, Zerva (shown in the accompanying illustration), Sharona, and Malitz. While they're not many, three of them are playable characters (Malitz being an NPC), and two of these three are around for most of the game. And while Sharona is, in our opinion, among the least interesting characters of the entire cast and it would be great if she just shut the fuck up already, Fyuria and Zerva are great, memorable characters. They are some of the very first characters to appear in the game, so they get a lot of attention; and although Fyuria is only around for one generation, her brother Zerva is forever, and he's among the most important characters of the game.
If Leonhardt marries Fyuria, their sons will inherit her Syrium blood; that would make Ladius, Thoma, Duran and Rex part-Syrium, although the only hint of this will be in Ladius' silverish hair and violet eyes (his ears are conspicuously non-pointy).
The Oneltes (both singular and plural, sometimes spelled as Onertes and Onerthes) would be virtually indistinguishable from humans, except for their much longer lifespan and the fact that they have a third eye in the middle of the forehead - not a figurative third eye, but rather a literal third eye that can move independently from their other two eyes and that allows them to gaze into the future. Their prescience is an ability that is both coveted and feared by others, and because of it, this people has been greatly persecuted; many Oneltes conceal their third eye and try to pass as humans to avoid being singled out because of their race, and even with that, some monsters can sense the power of their eye and will go out of their way to attack them (although we have no idea why they do that; is there really much to be gained for a werewolf to kill a Oneltes?).
Between the fact that they feel forced to hide their identifying mark and the fact that they've been hunted to near-extinction, finding a Oneltes is no easy matter; as such, not much else is known about this race of seers.
Vira-Lorr (shown in the accompanying illustration) is the only Oneltes character in all of Agarest: Generations of War. Unlike most of her people, she doesn't hide her identity as a Oneltes and goes around with her third eye exposed, accepting the dangers that come from her personal choice.
Another Oneltes appears in Agarest: Generations of War Zero: his name is Cal-Vina. He keeps his third eye hidden under a bandage out of precaution; its powers are very weak anyway, so he doesn't make much use of them - he can only see into the future rarely, and not very far.
One word: furries. Well, to be more precise, kemonomimi ("animal ears"). The Neocolloms (also spelled as Neocolom and Neokorom) are a race of people with animal traits, especially ears and tail. No explanation is ever given as to why they are part-animal and nothing is ever revealed about their culture and lifestyle. So far, all Neocolloms in Agarest are based on mammals; it's not known if Neocolloms with traits of other animals exist.
Like many other races of Agarest, they have a long lifespan; we don't know how long precisely, but we do know that, in the first part of their life, they age in the same way as humans. We can suppose that they reach maturity in the same way as humans do, but then have a longer adult life. Wow, despite Neocolloms not being considered a mysterious race (like half the races of this game), there sure there is a distinctive dearth of information about them...
In Agarest: Generations of War there are only two characters belonging to this race: Sherufanir and Qua (shown in the accompanying illustration). Both are playable characters; Sherufanir is fox-like, and Qua is rabbit-like. Out of the two, Qua is the only full-blooded Neocollom; Sherufanir identifies as and looks like a Neocollom, but she's actually only half, as she is the daughter of a Neocollom man and a human woman. Both characters have very high agility, but it's unclear if this is a trait of all Neocolloms or just those who are similar to agile animals.
If Ladius ends up marrying Sherufanir, their sons will inherit some Neocollom blood, but none of them will have evident Neocollom attributes, possibly because being one-fourth Neocollom isn't enough to bring out the animal features (although one could argue that Thoma is plenty animal even if he has no Neocollom blood, heh).
One more Neocollom character is introduced in Agarest: Generations of War Zero: Tetora, a cat-like Neocollom who was raised by the Ryulents. Like Qua and Sherufanir, she has high agility, but once again, she is a cat, so that still doesn't answer our question...
The tree-like Ryulents are one of the most ancient races of the world of Agarest, and among the most long-lived ones. They are protectors of forests and nature as a whole, and have the ability to communicate with trees and plants. Ryulents were born from the mythical Tree of Earth and return to being plants at the end of their lifetime; while they spend most of their lives deep within their home grove, mature Ryulents will start a journey to find a place where they can set their roots and die to generate a new forest. As lovely as this sounds, they are however a dying race, although their legacy lives on in the form of woods that were born from them.
...Haven't we seen this somewhere else? Seriously, the word ent is even in their name. We smell a lawsuit...
Two individuals of this race appear in Agarest: Generations of War: Misselkanui and his son Arbol (shown in the accompanying illustration), who is a playable character. Arbol is the last of his kind to be born in a long time, and although he's fairly young (for a Ryulent), he joins the party as he wishes to travel the world to find a place where he can return to the Earth.
No playable Ryulents appear in Agarest: Generations of War Zero, but there is one Ryulent NPC: Thrisasaz, the adoptive grandfather of Tetora.
Greers (also spelled as Griars) are, substantially, the equivalent of dwarves in the Agarest universe. They are generally short and stocky, live in underground cities, have a long lifespan, and are renowned around the world for their unrivaled skill at forging and smithing. Typical dwarf stuff. However, since this is Agarest, they have to have pointy ears - not as pointy as Elves and Syriums, but pointy nevertheless. They appear to be in friendly terms with the Nelths, who are powerful enchanters and, as such, often aid the Greer smiths in the production of magical weaponry and items; however, the overlapping of their traditional lines of work also leads to a little bit of amicable rivalry between the two races. There don't seem to be any hard feelings, though.
In Agarest: Generations of War, there is only one Greer character who is found in the only Greer city that is ever visited through the course of the game. His name is Ganz (shown in the accompanying illustration) and he's a highly skilled smith; he's all burly and strong and dwarf-like. Dwarf dwarf dwarf.
If it seems like we're not saying anything of importance about the Greers, it's because there isn't anything of importance about them in the game. They are not really developed, and Ganz himself is only there to make a dwarfy thing, and doesn't get much more significant dialogue than that.
They're little and short and live comfortable existences in houses built inside grassy hills: what are they? But of course, the Nelths! That's totally the first thing that comes to mind, eh?
Unlike whatever you're thinking of, however, the Nelths of Agarest have the characteristic of looking more or less like children for most of their long life - like some portrayals of gnomes and elves in European folklore. At some point they do become old and wrinkly, but don't ask us how exactly this transition takes place. Their nimble hands make the Nelths unparalleled artisans, and their magical skills lead them to be great enchanters; as previously said, they often assist the Greers with imbuing their items with magic. Because the Greers are friends of the Nelths. The dwarves are friends of the... Get it?
Also, guess what: they have pointy ears. No!!! Really??? Who would have thought.
Three Nelths are seen over the course of Agarest: Generations of War: Plum (shown in the accompanying illustration), her guardian Macmuth, and Fer. Plum and Fer are playable characters, and Macmuth is an NPC. Neither Plum nor Fer are physically powerful, but Plum makes up for that by being an excellent magic user; if anyone figures out what is the point of Fer being in the game at all, call us.
As the name suggests, Harpuias are based on harpies. The Harpuias of Agarest are, however, less monstrous than their ancient Greek counterpart, and if something resemble certain classical portrayals of angels or archangels: they look pretty much human, except that they have four wings. But this is Agarest, so they must have something going on with their ears. Well, lo and behold, Harpuias get winged ears! That's actually pretty original, we like that.
Not much is known about the culture of the Harpuias; they seem to be only found in the continents of Enhambre and Aigistar, and even there they seem to be somewhat rare. All we know is that Harpuias like to build their cities on cliffs, mountains, and other places that can only be easily accessed by flying; therefore, all of their towns are almost-unassailable fortresses.
A total of three Harpuias appear in Agarest: Generations of War: Silvi, Keith, and Murmina (shown in the accompanying illustration). The former and the latter are party members, with Keith being an NPC. All three of them have feathers of different colors, leading us to believe that there's quite a bit of possible variation with how their wings look. As for what concerns their abilities, all Harpuias possess the Float willpower, which is invaluable in battle as it negates pretty much half of the attacks against them.
If Duran marries Silvi, their son Rex will have wings! However, his ears are hidden, so we can't tell if he has winged ears, too. Our guess is that, being only half-Harpuia, all he gets is a little bit of fuzz on his ears. Could that be why he's hiding them?
Agarest: Generations of War Zero introduces the character of Sayane (shown in the accompanying illustration), a half-human, half-Harpuia woman. She only has two small wings, and they're essentially vestigial anyway, as she is unable to fly. This might retroactively explain why half-Harpuia Rex doesn't ever seem to use his wings (yes, we know that it's probably just an oversight due to the writers not thinking about his possible wings, but).
Speaking of Rex, Sayane's ears are also always hidden. Hmm. We are on to you, Agarest!
Essentially, the Yulishees (both singular and plural) are the merpeople of the world of Agarest. They live underwater, although there doesn't seem to be anything to stop them from living on the ground; they can breathe the air, and they don't have a fish tail like mermaids, but their feet are webbed and end with claws, like the paws of an otter. They also have fin-ears, which we wonder if they are used to swim like hammerhead sharks.
Unlike the other races of this world, the Yulishees don't settle in a single place, and as such don't have towns; what they do have, however, is a sort of a congress called the Colom, where they gather to discuss important matters and make decisions that affect the entire community. Although otherwise the Yulishees get to live as they please, the word of the Colom is law, and the punishment for breaking the Colom's law is exile.
We were wondering what's the deal with their name for a while, and then we saw that, in the Heroines Visual Book, it's spelled as Ulysses, like the Greek hero of the Odyssey who survived hearing the bewitching song of the sirens (who aren't mermaids but are popularly thought to be). Holy shit! Who transliterated that?!
Only two Yulishees ever appear in Agarest: Generations of War: Reverie and Landa (both shown in the accompanying illustration, Reverie being the one in the foreground). The former is a party member, and the latter is an NPC, more precisely the head of the Colom. Since there's only one Yulishees playable character in the whole game, we can't know what traits are shared among them as a race. It is likely that Reverie's proficiency in water-based magic isn't rare in her species, though.
Larvae are proto-gods from another realm called the Boundary Plane who have been summoned to a physical form in Agarest by gods or High Elves. Not much is known about Larvae or how exactly their summoning works, but we do know that High Elves are capable of summoning a Larva in a moment of dire need, that the physical form of that Larva is dependent upon the situation and the thoughts of their High Elf summoner, and that they serve as faithful guardians and protectors to their masters. However, all Larvae have some degree of free will, and if left to their own devices, can become corrupted, in which case their appearance will change again to reflect their fall to darkness. In particular, a corrupted Larva who serves in the army of Summerill, the King of Darkness, is known as a Gurg, and can be identified by their black armor.
Larvae are among the most powerful beings in the world of Agarest, and their strength is only second to that of the gods themselves. Their lifespan is on the order of thousands of years, and although they can die, we wonder whether they die in the same way as humans or if they just return to their spiritual form in the Boundary Plane.
Although they can take any physical form, many of the Larvae seen in the Agarest series share the trait of sporting magical fire somewhere on their body, usually on their shoulders and/or arms. So far, all Larvae featured in the series have been male; however, considered that their appearance depends on the summoner, we see no reason why a Larva couldn't be female (or genderless, or something else yet). But we are still waiting to see one that is not male.
By far the most prominent Larva in Agarest: Generations of War is Borgnine, who was summoned by Ellis to defend her from mortal danger. His top objective is her safety; whenever anyone else tells him to do something, he is quick to reply that he only listens to his master, and even then, he will disobey her commands if he suspects following them will put her in danger.
Mirroring Ellis and Borgnine, Agarest: Generations of War Zero has another High Elf, Alice, with a summoned Larva, Galios. He was summoned to serve as a sort of father-figure to fill the void left by her beloved, but often-absent biological father, Eleazal; as such, Galios' character is that of Eleazal as perceived and idealized by Alice (we are at a loss as to why she wanted her father to look like a demon triceratops with one broken horn, though). Although we don't know the exact circumstances of his summoning, Galios' appearance would lead to believe that the situation of dire need that a High Elf has to experience to bring forth a Larva doesn't need to be of immediate physical danger, like in Ellis' case, but that it can also be of emotional distress.
Back to Agarest: Generations of War, another Larva is Quadwas, a corrupted Larva who masquerades as a benevolent god and demands human sacrifices from the neighboring village of unwitting humans. Although he is corrupted, he is not a Gurg - Quadwas has become corrupted on his own, and he is not part of Summerill's entourage.
Vashtor, instead, is in league with Summerill - he's not just a Gurg, he's the leader of the Gurg. Vashtor's true identity is one of the big reveals of Agarest: Generations of War, although, let's be honest: we saw that coming for ages - he's got black armor, has mysteriously lost his memory, and looks like a member of KISS, for crying out loud. Throughout the story, he has an ambivalent relationship with his nature as he accompanies our heroes but regains memory of being a Gurg and of his original mission to kill the Spirit Vessels. His inner conflict shows he still retains a certain amount of free will. His backstory and life as a Larva is explored in Agarest: Generations of War Zero.
Speaking of which, Summerill himself (shown in the accompanying illustration) is a Larva. Originally summoned by Arumana, God of Luck, he eventually fell to darkness and waged a war against the gods of light; he was defeated and sealed away, but was never fully destroyed. His later rise to power is one of the driving forces of the plot of Agarest: Generations of War.