Humans are different on Azmoth than on many other worlds. Several groups of angels were responsible for creating them, and they each made unique versions, suited for their elemental environments. Every person on Azmoth "belongs" to one of these elements. Their appearance and abilities are influenced by this association. The types of humans are completely compatible in terms of reproduction, so a human influenced by the river angels can marry a desert human and they will be biologically compatible (though their temperaments may cause difficulties). A child of such a union will inherit the elemental appearance, influences, and powers of ONE of the parents.
Humans don’t inherit a specific personality from their element, though their mood will be influenced by the conditions and state of the closest manifestation of that element. This, at least, is what scholars have announced. The exact interpretation of this is unclear, and books have been written trying to explain it. The most obvious explanation is that sea people will become agitated, passionate, angry, or excited when a storm is affecting the shore nearest them, but how does this affect a sea person who is far from the coast? Scholars claim that they are influenced by the closest seashore, but that the effects are mitigated by distance. They also say that relative strength plays a part: a small copse will have less influence and work over less distance than a major forest, even if that forest is quite distant. Finally, we are told that the intensity of the conditions at the element also play into the influence. All this seems awfully complicated to the layman, since it is only obvious when the influencing conditions are near and intense, but scholars delve into it anyway.
People prefer to live near their own element. Hence they tended to settle in similar environments to their home ones when they arrived on the southern continent. Of the few who didn’t, most of their choices in mates did. The element then weaved it’s influence over the couples, and the children all inherited the primary element dominating the area. All of which means, over time, that the dominant element of an area will manifest in the subtype of most humans; though the essentially human features will mix normally.
Here is a basic rundown of how the elements influence humans. It should be noted that these descriptions, especially the personality influences, are far from absolute, and many exceptions can be found just even by walking into a small community of humans belonging to an element.
River: River humans tend to have green or brown features. Sometimes even their skin will tint this way, but not often. They tend to be a bit on the lean and wiry side, but still have good strength. It is also not unusual, though uncommon, to find river humans with webbed fingers or toes. River humans can hold their breath longer than other humans, but they lack the full gills that Ocean folk retain. River people can swim against currents as if the water was standing still, which gives them a mobility in the water that matches many in boats. They are strong willed, though not stubborn, and once they decide to do something (usually the easiest solution) they stick to it. This is not to assume they are lazy, they just don’t think resisting the powerful force is usually the best course. When they do decide to fight against the status quo, they tend to be relentless and energetic about it.
Ocean/Sea: The features of Ocean humans tend toward blue and grey. Many Sea humans have thoroughly grey hair even in their early twenties. They also tend to have a higher concentration of body fat, though it is distributed well and they do not look obese. The humans of many coasts can breathe water as well as air, and though they live on the land, they suffer when too dry for too long. This discomfort is far from life threatening, but enough to make them irritable. Fresh water removes some discomfort, but they claim it is less luxurious. Sea humans are capable of getting the water they need from briny and salty water, some even prefering it. This extends to some immunity to other toxins that would damage the human constitution. Ocean people are affected more than others by their element, especially when close to the coast, though the reaction is quite personal. Some are made more angry and some just more excited by the same storm.
Forest: Green is a predominant feature of Forest people, and almost all of them have green eyes of some shade. Some even have greenish hair, though brown is far more common. They tend to be tall and wispy, and most adults will sway slightly when standing or thinking. Those of the forests are capable of perceiving things that may not even be there, though they are often called mad. This often results in having information that others don’t, especially in regards to where people are. Some few forest folk claim the trees speak to them, but most simply know it. Forest folk are given to superstition and seeing the supernatural. While they are thought of as mad, most who have spent time with a forest human are reluctant to entirely ignore what they see. This sight also refers to relationship and a higher level of observation of mannerism and details. It is difficult to hide something from a forest human, whether by lies or by concealment. They are pacifistic and difficult to rile, for the most part — unless their homes are threatened.
Jungle: Jungle humans appear very similar to forest people, though a greater variety of colors, such as red and blue, or even black show up in their eyes and coloring. They are also not quite as tall, though they have more length in their limbs than in their bodies, especially in comparison to the forest folk. Humans of the jungles of Azmoth are adapted to living in the trees, and have an amazing speed and agility. They tend to build their homes high in the trees, and often do not build ladders or stairs. A child is not considered an adult until he or she is capable of climbing down and up without aid. Jungle folk are passionate and often vicious. They don’t apply wisdom very much, but they like to learn and know and hear and experience. They are very territorial and have an act first, investigate later attitude.
Plains: Yellow and light browns and golds are the colors you find most in the skin, eyes, and hair of people from the plains. They are mostly shorter people, with a variety of builds. The plainsfolk can expand their minds to exceptional limits, to the point of telekinetic and telepathic ability. This annoys many others, and even impinges on their relationships with others, as only the most trained of Plains humans are capable of fully controlling their telepathy. This is why many plainsfolk are nomadic. This freeness of mind has not necessarily made plains people more disciplined or scholarly, but it has made them place a high value on independence and movement, which is why the Free Cities resist confederation.
Desert: Desert peoples have very subtle color variations in a yellow to light brown spectrum, though it is not unheard of for red to appear in their eyes and skin especially. They are short and lithe, though very tough. Humans of the desert enjoy the heat, and rarely suffer from sunburn or sunstroke; they find even temperate climates frigid, however. Desert people have always had a hard life, and so they have become very focussed and disciplined. This in turn, instead of making them physically stronger or tougher, has made them more intelligent, in terms of technology, scholarship, and intuition. They are natural problem solvers and even the most uneducated desert human tends to be capable of solving most technical or logic problems that come his way. Faith often suffers in a desert human community, but they are very accepting of evidence even for things they adamantly believe to be false, so long as that evidence is valid. They are perhaps the most determined and patient of all people on Azmoth.
Hill: The hill people are the most diverse group in the world in terms of appearance. There is no way to predict a hill person by appearance. Their coloring and size both vary tremendously. Hill folk have an uncanny ability to slightly alter this appearance as well. They are capable of changing hair, skin, and eye color to a certain degree (though someone with natural black hair could never appear blonde without dyes). They can even change basic body shape with some effort, and a few have been rumored to be able to add feathers or scales or gills, though not ones that will do anything. This adaptability has led to their temperament to be adaptable as well. While few hill people are recognized as magnificent scholars, they are remarkably quick thinkers. This combination has led to their employment as spies, con men, and ambassadors, even being hired from other nations if there are not many hill people from the employer’s own nation. Hill people enjoy like minded personalities, which usually means each other, though they often allow their own ideas to be swallowed up in dominant personalities around them, making them comfortable nearly anywhere.
Mountain: Steel gray, white, and black typify the appearance of mountain men. They are stocky, broad, and quite tall. While not as smart on the whole as many others, those from the mountains have an incredible strength and endurance. Few are as strong as a mountain man, and nearly no one has as good an affinity with their environment. Mountain folk do not "sense" things as the forest people do, but they know how to read the signs of their environment. They are patient folk, but stubborn., and they are often hard to convince with reason. However, their loyalty (usually to each other) is the stuff of legends, and they will help out any they call an ally. Surprisingly, grudges rarely last long, only remaining while they feel they still have to change something. They do not take offense easily, but their famous loyalty is also hard to win. Their simple philosophies have been taken by some groups to be a sign of great wisdom, and a few of the most famous aesthetic thinkers have been mountain men, despite their breed’s reputation for being weak minded.