Among the largest and most feared of all beastfolk, the tiger felesians are a proud people with incredible strength and grace. Though rarely seen, they are known to dwell mostly in the mysterious Far East and some regions of the South, particularly Parsanshar. Little is known about their culture, since they generally keep to themselves and do their best to stay out of the affairs of others, but tales say that they seldom war with one another, and are proud to have achieved a higher level of mutual understanding than either other beastfolk or men.
Bearing many features of the mightiest and most majestic animals in all of Midgard, the tiger-folk are all too aware of their intimidating appearance. Most have yellow or orange fur with dark stripes, but a few are white, much like their tiger kin. Very rarely, one might be born with a "golden" fur pattern, with deep yellow fur, orange stripes, and white on their arms and belly. Like most felesians, their eyes are nearly always yellow, orange, or golden, but they may also have blue or green eyes.
Very little is known about the culture of the tiger-folk, and the intricacies of their society and ruling individuals remains largely unknown. In spite of their incredibly fearsome appearance, it seems their culture teaches to live and let live. This belief - remarkably - stretches to seemingly all creatures. Wars between two tribes of tiger-folk are unheard of, for they do not believe that violence solves their problems, and they will always offer support and an exchange of gifts and understanding before bloodshed. Toward Men and other types of beastfolk, however, tiger-folk are largely unwelcoming. They usually avoid all contact or try to intimidate intruders off their territory. If a tribe believes its territory to be threatened, tiger-folk respond with intimidation first and violence second. In spite of their generally peace-keeping ways, tiger-folk have long memories and a tendency to hold grudges, and they seem to consider Men among the worst of all creatures. They have a strong sense of justice, and if wronged, will not relent until they feel the offender has paid for his or her crimes. The gods worshipped by the tiger-folk remain unknown.
Tiger felesians have never been known to field an actual army, but every member of their tribe is expected to know how to fight, and to protect the young and elderly if the tribe is threatened. Though they have been known to use weapons, they certainly do not need arms or armor. Masters of stealth and ambush, they can trap invaders deep in their home terrain and then attack them unawares, tearing them apart with their immense strength, using their bare claws and fangs.
Perhaps the most common and well-known of the felesian races, prides of lion-folk can be found from the deepest reaches of the South all the way into some parts of the Achaean Empire. Though still fairly primitive in the eyes of Men, lion felesians are slightly closer to human culture in that they have taken more interest in technology and material riches than many other beastfolk. Men often say lions are a symbol of nobility, which, of course, is hardly true; in the case of lion-folk, their level of nobility is similar to Men in that it varies widely from ruler to ruler.
The fur of lion-folk is nearly always tawny golden-brown, though they may range into slightly darker shades; on rare occasion, their fur may even be stark white. Their eyes are most commonly some shade of yellow, gold, or orange, but green and blue eyes are not unheard of. Like lions, the males bear large manes, while the females do not.
The lion-folk are considered by Men to be some of the most culturally developed beastfolk, alongside Minotaurs. Ironically, this also means that their culture has far more backstabbing politics than many other beastfolk. Lion-folk societies are governed by one ruling male, who holds the title of King. However, queens may come and go, and females often vie for the position, leading to an entire branch of political schemes that are female-only. To usurp a king is a much more complicated and risky undertaking, since there are usually few males in a pride.
The pantheon worshipped by lion-folk consists of three major deities, which are also worshipped by some cultures of Men in the South: Sekhmet, Bast, and Maahes. In their culture, Bast is depicted with the head of a lioness, like Sekhmet; they claim this is an older and more accurate depiction of the goddess, before her appearance was corrupted by Men. Sekhmet is their primary goddess, a deity of the sun and hunting, among other things; Bast is the goddess of fertility and health; and Maahes is the god of war and weather. Unlike many other beastfolk, their villages are often made at least partially of stone, and they build grand temples to their gods - and even grander, more decorated palaces that house the royal family. The royal family themselves dress vainly in gold and jewels.
Opposite from human military, which employs males almost exclusively, both the military and hunters of lion-folk consist almost entirely of females. Though they still employ mostly light armor in order to take full advantage of their dexterity, lion-folk wear more armor compared to other beastfolk. While their hunters generally wear just enough clothing to remain decent, in order to better blend in with their environment and retain freedom of movement, the true military forces of lion-folk wear a wide range of protection, from brigandine to chain and plate. They forge weapons of steel and employ a variety of military units, such as spearmen, swordsmen, and archers. When it comes to a pitched battle, they have been known to defeat enemy forces much larger in number, thanks to their great strength, agility, and sense of tribal discipline.
Found up and down Midgard, hidden away deep in the wilderness, the lynx-folk range from the coldest reaches of Northrim, into some portions of the Achaean Empire (particularly the Northwest), the Far East, and concentrated near the Jagged Edge. The South remains one of the few locations in which lynx-folk cannot be found.
Although still larger or the same size as the tallest of Men, lynx-folk are smaller than many of their enormous felesian kin. There are a few variations among lynx-folk, with felesians bearing thicker fur, larger paws, and shorter tails living near the frozen coasts of Northrim and even on many northern islands at sea. Their eyes are usually yellow, golden, or orange, but green and blue eyes are far more common among lynx-folk than many other felesian races, with blue being nearly as common as yellow.
Lynx-folk are not a very unified people, and they tend to live in very small, secluded groups far beyond the reach or concern of Men. Generally, they build only enough shelter as is needed by their small communities, and many families and small tribes of lynx-folk will take up a nomadic lifestyle. Though their deities vary widely from tribe to tribe, more often than not, lynx-folk worship spirits of nature in lieu of specific deities. In general, lynx-folk live simple lives and have a simple pecking order, particularly since most "tribes" are really just families. Most lynx-folk merely want to be left alone.
As they are not a very unified culture, lynx-folk have no specific military or method of fighting. However, they are masterful hunters, and if pushed into combat, they will use cunning, stealth, and traps before outright battle - though they are nonetheless certainly a force to be reckoned with in honest combat. Also, as they are nomadic, if an enemy appears and threatens them, they are not above simply retreating into the shadows and creating a new home somewhere else.
Living almost exclusively in the South, cheetah-folk present a fairly unique case among felesians in that they are often willing to make alliances with other beastfolk in order to strengthen their tribes. Cheetah-folk are some of the fastest runners in all of Midgard, and certainly the fastest among humanoid creatures. Even one small tribe of these felesians is desirable to any alliance.
When compared to the lion-folk with whom they sometimes ally themselves, the cheetah-folk are much leaner, with slimmer bodies and leaner muscles. Like their animal kin, they have tawny hides covered in black spots - and, occasionally, black stripes running down their backs - and long tails. Interestingly, cheetah-folk are the only felesians who cannot fully retract their claws. As with most felesians, their eyes are most often yellow or orange, though occasionally blue and green eyes may be found. The royal families of many tribes will include individuals with bright blue eyes and black stripes down their backs in addition to spots, both of which are said to be signs of noble blood, particularly among males. Generally, males with these attributes are members of a higher class, as these same attributes were attested to an ancient king of cheetah-folk who was said to be the greatest of all their kind.
The culture of cheetah-folk is fairly simple: they live in small tribes with closely-knit families, building small villages under the ruling hand of a mighty Queen. In direct contrast to lion-folk royalty, among the cheetah-folk, a ruling Queen passes her title down to her eldest daughter, while kings come and go and vie for their status. Though generally governed by a leading female, males are not seen as lesser, and both genders particpate actively in all aspects of a tribal community, regardless of their social status. Though more than capable of fending for themselves and living on their own, cheetah-folk are cunning politicians, using alliances with other beastfolk to their advantage. They generally worship spirits of nature, but in spite of the queens often bearing more power than the king in their current society, they also revere an ancient king of their people. This king's name has supposedly been long forgotten. He is now usually referred to simply as the Great King, and he has been elevated to a god of many things, including the sky. He is always depicted as a strong cheetah felesian with sky-blue eyes and black stripes down his back.
As mentioned, cheetah-folk often ally themselves with other tribes of beastmen, whether they are fellow felesians such as lion-folk, or even hyetzi or some other Southern-dwelling race of beastman. Lone tribes of cheetah-folk are not uncommon, of course, and they remain a deadly force. Employing archers and light infantry of both male and female gender, the military of cheetah felesians is adept at moving quickly, striking hard, and using evasive tactics to wear down even the strongest and most well-armored of foes. In terms of physical prowess, cheetah-folk remain stronger than Men thanks to their animalistic power, but they are weaker than many other Southern beastfolk - particularly the large lion felesians. What they lack in strength, however, they more than double in speed and agility, which they exploit to the utmost advantage.