31 August 2015

Fantasy Races: Rivalries And Alliances, part 2

The Proud Herons And The Sagacious Apes

Kyo and kai-tang civilizations have different norms and ideals. Kyo culture is extrovert, expansive, hierarchical, emphasizing success, wealth, luxury, prestige, social advancement, and face. For kyo intent of an action is of lesser importance than following the prescribed forms. Kai-tang society is rather introvert, egalitarian, composed of semi-isolated groups with little desire for expansion, emphasizing intellectual honesty, spiritual development, and enlightened action—kai-tang are expected to understand intents that drives the action and balance the means and results of the action. Despite this differences, societies of both races are mostly meritocratic, rewarding individual achievements and capabilities with respect and prestige.

When kyo and kai-tang met, there is an obvious distance between each other. Kyo view ape-men as archetypal noble savages—creatures certain holding wisdom and grace that partly redeems their uncivilized (i.e. non-kyo) ways and grant them a measure of respect, but savages nonetheless. Kai-tang pity kyo's obsession with hierarchies, wealth, and social stance, as straining and hindering their intellectual and spiritual integrity and advancement. Both appreciate the interaction with the other to a certain degree, as an exotic distraction and an instructive moment (even if the lesson learned is usually picking aspects aligned with their own culture and avoidance of following the ways of the other race in matters that aren't similar already). The perceived exotic savagery and their physical strength combined with intelligence makes kai-tang mercenaries popular supplement of the Radiant Empire forces. A number of kai-tang settlements became protectorates of the slowly expanding Radiant Empire, retaining a high degree of autonomy, with some minor organizational glitches related to imperial expectation of having single directors clashing with kai-tang preference for selected associations performing equivalent roles together.

While the trade between the two races exist, it is sometimes frustrating to kyo merchants because of kai-tang philosophically driven assignment of values to goods and services. This splits kyo merchants into two camps: those who are irritated by dealing with kai-tang, and those who got used to kai-tang approach, treating it as a game with its own unique rules and forms.

The Winged Merchants And The Curious Swimmers

The xenopi are a real conundrum to kyo. Are they beasts of the sea only incidentally capable of communication, with a semblance of culture created via cunning mimicry? Or are they a really weird sapient beings to whom normal behaviors of sapient races, such as family bonds, sexual mores, material possession, and social divisions are alien concepts? Resembling a common sea food does not help solve that dilemma. From their side, xenopi are eager to help kyo reach mutual understanding between their people... Which of course confuses the matter, as xenopi have hard time understanding many crucial aspects of kyo life themselves. Why exchanging things is so important to kyo? Why social rank is that important to kyo? Why would low rank kyo follow what high rank kyo instructions if it does not agree with the instruction... And so on, and so on.

Kyo merchants do visit xenopi settlements, acquiring some xenopi produces via exchange of gifts, a process less reliable than regular trade or barter, but occasionally being very profitable. More than one minor kyo peddler earned a fortune by acquiring ingots of rare metals or high quality pearls from xenopi that had no foreseeable need for them. Curious xenopi are more than happy to join kyo merchant crews on their voyages to travel far and wide, and sometimes kyo merchants even agree to such requests, hoping that exotic nature of xenopi pet will attract more curious customers, and increase the merchant's prestige.


Xenopi venturing into the Radiant Empire jurisdiction have a vague legal status—killing a speaking entity would be certainly improper, even more mistaking it for a sea food and eating it, but at the same time they are known for their very limited ability to behave properly, even at the degree expected from a culturally inferior race. The expulsion is favored way of dealing with problematic xenopi.

The Feathered People And The Furred Nuisance

Whereas xenopi might be a conundrum to kyo, purrlings are a primarily a nuisance to the Radiant Empire. They are unruly, reckless, mischievous, disrespectful, loud, have no sense of shame or respect for authority. They are what kyo culture despise made alive and running around. And to add insult to the injury they enjoy eating birds' eggs out of their nests...

And yet, while they might be epitome of uncivilized behavior for the Radiant Empire, kyo show a surprising level of tolerance for their antics. This partly caused by kyo not treating purrlings seriously, more like a speaking animal that is barely suitable for a role of a pet when well behaved, or annoying pest if it moves past certain limits. While there is no imperial law prescribing legal status of the furred nuisances, they are generally treated as pets or wards of their companions, who take responsibility for the purrling's antics and any injuries caused and are denied legal personality of their own. Recently in some regions, it became fashionable for prestigious and wealthy kyo to keep a few purrlings, as mascots, and amusement. This fad might last until purrlings strain the kyo patience or become replaced by a new, more exotic pet.

Purrlings living among kyo love to mimic (imperfectly and without understanding of nuances of the etiquette) the kyo behavior while spurring a ridiculous claims to fictional ranks and titles that would be blasphemous for any proper kyo citizen. Many purrlings that entered into contact with kyo even for a short time are impressed with kyo vanity and behavior and are inspired into a new levels of mock-behavior of their own, occasionally trying to recreate kyo society and hierarchy among fellow purrlings, until they got bored or distracted by some new experience.

18 August 2015

Fantasy Races: Rivalries And Alliances, Part 1

What happens when fantasy races (well, technically species, but certain system popularized term "race" when referring to humanoid or at least playable creatures that it became a game mechanic term so I stick to it here) contact each other... How do their distinct biology, culture, philosophy, and behavior interact and what can result in such meeting?

The Haughty And The Vain

"The only megalomania I can stand in my presence is my own."

Azan and kyo are arrogant, believing in their respective superiority over other other sapient peoples. For azan, their pride is feed by their magical and technological mastery, for kyo, it is derived from their religion and extent of their mercantile empire. For both, their pride shaped their language, culture, and philosophy.

When two cultures with so deeply ingrained sense of superiority meet a clash seems inevitable. Thankfully, both races disdain direct confrontation, preferring convoluted schemes, economic and diplomatic pressure, and use of hired, enslaved, conjured, bred, or constructed minions. This sometimes leads to political or economic intrigues and conflicts being played via proxy polities, often oblivious to the true reasons of the struggle. Another factor diminishing the degree of animosity between azan and kyo is their social structure: azan lack any large scale unity except for academically-bent colleges and economically-focused corporations, while kyo, formally being united via the Radiant Empire suffer from political divisions between regional governors. Neither race desires extensive territorial expansion: azan are too low in numbers due to their slow reproduction rate while kyo are very deliberate and careful in their expansion to avoid over-extension. 

With all that factors considered, the usual interaction between azan and kyo is surprisingly smooth, with both sides having acquired a degree of respect for the other race field of expertise. In fact, some azani directors and kyo governors reached an unspoken agreement of treating their competition for resources and influence as a game of sorts, trying to outmaneuver the opponent, possibly sacrificing lesser beings in the process but avoiding escalating the conflict into a direct one.

The Scientists And Philosophers

"Kai-tang are surprisingly smart for a species with such ridiculous amount of hair."

For two races with strong intellectual focus azan and kai-tang have some similarities and even more differences. While azan favor applied sciences and utilitarian philosophies, kai-tang prefer wider erudition and speculative philosophy. Both races use a voluntary groups composed of a few individuals as a primary social unit, tied by shared interests, profession, or intellectual pursuits. Self-centered azan usually view their cabals as a pragmatic way of organization for purposes of gaining tangible benefits with emotional relations and spiritual aspects downplayed. Kai-tang associations on the other hand are considered important part of one's spiritual development. Violence is rarely the first solution that either race uses to solve their problems—azan being too pragmatic to risk their life needlessly while kai-tang being too philosophically minded to react with immediate aggression. Both races can be terrifying when roused to battle, though, trying to annihilate grave threats—azan using their magic, technology, and minions, and kai-tang combining physical prowess and magic.

Both races tend to live in small communities and isolated groups, minimizing chance for organized conflict. When azan and kai-tang come into blows, it is limited struggle, almost universally caused by dispute over a noteworthy resource, and often takes form of one of more ruthless azani corporations harassing kai-tang settlement through intermediaries, "rogue" monsters, arranged accidents, and an occasional catastrophe until they leave or agree to sell the resource.

Occasionally an azani cabal or even a corporation hires a kai-tang or an association of them as skilled labor force or even as low-tier assistants and overseers for less intellectually-capable laborers. From time to time, more academically minded azan or even whole colleges recognize intellectual achievements of kai-tang scholars and sages, entering into scholarly correspondence to exchange ideas. Larger kai-tang communities might commission azani engineer when they decide that technological solution to an existing problem is the most appropriate.

The Pattern-makers and the Pattern-seekers

"I looked and I saw. The movement. The dozens teethed wheels interlocking with smaller and bigger teethed wheels. Things with shapes that have no names revolving around each other. Lights circling lights like if they were stars. Metal, stone, crystal, and smoke. It was enthralling, it was terrible."

Azan and oc'cli are in many ways oppositions. Azan have an intense sense of intellectual superiority that makes them seek mastery over the world, bending their environment to their needs, and believing themselves to be the source of order. For them "natural" is a derogatory term, synonym of inefficient, base, chaotic, product of random processes, and in dire need of being improvement or discarded to make place for deliberate creation. Oc'cli are seeking harmony and intuitive enlightenment, trying to discover and understand the ultimate pattern of things, which they believe is inherent in all things, but especially in the nature.

When azan care to pay attention to oc'cli at all, they disdain their focus on intuition and mock their intellectual slowness—and more than one azan hypothesized that oc'cli might be result of someone's failed experiment to create dedicated savant-minions. Oc'cli on the other hand have troubles with incorporating azan advanced technology into their interpretations of the ultimate pattern. Some of them are easily fascinated and confounded by complexity of azan creations. A few creeds declared azan creations to be disruptions to the pattern itself, especially in regions where azan were particularly rapacious at exploiting local resources, creating a number of oc'cli guerrilla groups targeting azan installations wherever they can find them.


12 August 2015

Mountain Terrors!

It is time to announce the first non-Pathfinder publication I am part of!

Green Ronin Publishing (for whom I wrote a moss lich template for their Advanced Bestiary Pathfinder update), currently releases a series of environment themed monsters: Mountain Terrors! Watch out for mountain trolls and devouring shadows! They wait to stalk you down and eat alive... Or dead if you will struggle too much!

Those of you who prefer DrivethruRPG can get it there as well.

31 July 2015

Radiant Exemplar

Radiant Exemplar, Golden

A regal anthropomorphic heron spreads its wings of sunlight and fire. In its four scaly slender arms it wields a rapier and a hunting bow. Its blinding white feathers are tinted with unearthly golden glow.

CR 5; XP 1,600
LN Outsider (extraplanar, lawful)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
Aura radiant inspiration (120 feet)

Defense
AC 18, touch , flat-footed (+4 armor, +3 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 52 (7d10+14)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +7
Defensive Abilities flying evasion, unsullied by earth or water; DR 5/chaotic; Immune blindness, dazzled; SR 16

Offense
Speed fly 30 feet (perfect)
Melee +1 rapier +11/+6 (1d6+3, 18-20/×2)
Ranged +1 composite long bow +11/+6 (1d8+3 plus cast into dark, ×3)
Special Attacks channel positive energy 6/day (DC 16, 4d6)
Spell-like Abilities (CL 7th, concentration +10)
Constant—mage armor
At-will—commune with birds
3/day—lesser restoration

Statistics
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Deadly Aim, Improved Initiative, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot
Skills Bluff +13, Diplomacy +13, Fly +22, Heal +12, Knowledge (planes) +12, Knowledge (religion) +12, Perception +12, Sense Motive +12; Racial Modifiers +4 Fly
Languages Celestial, Infernal, Kyo
SQ expeditious flight, infinite quiver, no breath

Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or flock (3-12)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Cast Into Dark (Su): A creature struck with one of the radiant exemplar's arrows is shrouded with a dark gloom and gain negative energy affinity until the end of the radiant exemplar's following turn. Undeads and creatures with racial negative affinity suffer -2 penalty to saving throw against positive energy effects.

Expeditious Flight (Ex): As a free action, a radiant exemplar can change its flying speed to 60 feet and maneuverability to average, or to 120 feet with clumsy maneuverability until the start of its following turn.

Flying Evasion (Ex): As long as radiant exemplar is flying, it gains benefit of evasion ability, suffering no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw from effects that allow a Reflex saving throw for half damage.

Infinite Quiver (Su): A radiant exemplar can always draw an arrow from its quiver. Arrows drawn from its quiver vanish 1 round after being fired or dropped.

Radiant Inspiration (Su): A radiant exemplar blazes with heavenly glow that inspires righteous kyo to greatness granting +2 morale bonus to attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks. Kyo that were branded outlaws by the Radiant Empire are shaken as long as they see a radiant exemplar and for 1d4 rounds thereafter.

Unsullied By Earth Or Water (Ex): A radiant exemplar is above the grasp of earth itself. If a radiant exemplar is unable to fly for any reason, it slowly descends to ground as if under a constant feather fall effect and remains hovering a foot or two above the ground or surface of water. A radiant exemplar deliberately entering water can use its flying speed as a swim speed but if anything prevents it from flying or taking actions it will emerge at the rate of 60 feet per round.

Radiant exemplars are honored heroes of the Radiant Empire, the most virtuous kyo raised to the semi-divine states posthumously by imperial edicts. As ascended beings they are free from the grasp of earth, flying on the wings of sunlight and righteousness to bring example and aid to the denizens of the Radiant Empire.

Priests and oracles of the Radiant Empire can call aid of radiant exemplars with their planar ally spells or summon them for a short time with summon monster V. Kyo can pick the Augment Calling feat and select "radiant exemplars" as a suitable category of outsiders, applying benefits of that feat to radiant exemplars of all castes.

15 July 2015

Fantasy Races: Kyo

Kyo

Cultured but vain, kyo are an avian race, the self-proclaimed rulers of the skies, and chosen of the sun. Kyo developed a highly advanced civilization with complex social hierarchy and refined culture, unified under the ceremonial rule of an emperor as the Radiant Empire. Their love of luxury and aversion to physical work turned their civilization into a commercial juggernaut with numerous trade routes spreading far and wide.

Kyo have a byzantine set of rules and customs codifying proper behavior, prescribing correct choice of garments, foods, living accommodations, and everyday conduct according to one's combination of caste and rank. Failure to uphold those standards leads to infamy, loss of prestige and possible demotion, a grave fate for rank-obsessed kyo.

Kyo are normally flightless, unless subjected to a special ritual followed by a regimen of exercises and strict diet, allowing full development of their wings and self-powered flight. This ritual is restricted to members of kyo gentry, though, and requires imperial sanction—increasing one's standing and reaching rank of gentry is one of the primary motivating factors for average kyo. Their love of flight also driven them to develop flying skyships that allow them to travel across the skies and even build a number of flying outposts and cities floating in the air, hidden in clouds, safe from earthbound threats. Many other kyo cities are artificial islands, floating on water and anchored in the most advantageous locations.

Kyo diet is primarily composed of fishes, amphibians, small reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs, insects, and small burrowing or swimming mammals. Flying non-avians are particularly sought after as delicacies and eggs of any non-avian species are often eaten as well. Kyo strongly avoid eating any birds with meat of wading birds and any avian eggs being explicitly forbidden both by law and custom.

Physical Description: Kyo are avian humanoids with very slender scale-covered limbs, a flexible sinuous neck supporting a heron-like head, and a pair of wings, that remain, except for kyo gentry and Sky caste, vestigial only. Individual kyo are slightly taller than humans but much lighter. Except for the beak, arms, and legs, the kyo's body is covered with fine feathers with coloration reflecting the kyo's caste—white with golden, silvery, or brown tinge for Gold, Silver, and Brown castes respectively, dark grey to coal black for Night caste, or pink to pale purple for Sky caste.

Wings of kyo elevated into the gentry via ceremony overseen by a Sky-caste member receive a growth spur over the next few weeks, months or years, dependent upon the diet, health, and age, extending into fully functional wings.

Kyo wear elaborate robes of white, blue, and green fabrics, with higher ranks favoring lighter, delicate clothing, especially among the flight-capable gentry. Leather and hides are only used in making of armors and protective gear, as they are considered too crude materials for proper civilized garments. Kyo sometimes adorn their visible feathers with colorful markings made with specially prepared pigments.

Society: Kyo society is a based on a complex horizontal and vertical divisions between castes and ranks. Four castes form the four branches of the kyo society — Brown, taking care of harvesting and processing food and other resources, as well as craftsmanship and engineering; Silver caste of traders and messengers that deals with logistics, transportation, and exploration; Gold caste of priests, spiritualists, entertainers, and social administrators; and Night caste responsible for covert ops, espionage, and warfare. The fifth, Sky caste, is the rarest. Its members are considered extended imperial family, above the rest of the kyo, acting as eyes, ears, and agents of the Radiant Emperor, and performing certain pratical and ceremonial functions such as overseeing tests and bestowing ranks on other kyo. Caste membership is based on a kyo's color of feathers when hatched, corresponding to the future tinge of the feathers. Most clutches of kyo eggs contain a majority of brown feathered hatchlings, with a few white ones and a single yellow one, becoming correspondingly Brown, Silver, and Gold. One in a few clutches contains a black feathered chick of a Night caste and one in a few hundreds of clutches contains a red or blue feathered one that will grow into a Sky caste.

The kyo society is stratified into nine ranks, with children being considered "unranked". Each kyo in good standing can apply for an official, caste-tailored academic test receiving a new rank according to the results of the test. A kyo's rank can also be changed by a member of the imperial family, based on one's merits or failures. First rank is a lowly commoner, ranks two to four are three tiers of citizens, ranks five to seven represent the kyo gentry—governmental officials with the seventh rank representing regional governors and the lesser members of the Sky caste. The eight tier is restricted to the four kings—leaders of the castes, and to members of the Sky caste acting as senior agents of the emperor. The ninth rank is the upper echelon of the Sky caste composing the emperor's personal household with the Radiant Emperor being above the rank system.

Kyo are very conscious of their social standing, rank, and prestige, with raise of personal rank and prestige being main driving force in any kyo's life. While the rank is separate from the caste, the caste roles and the caste stereotypes play important part in raising one's rank with Brown and Night castes rarely reaching beyond the lowest rung of gentry, with majority of regional governors being of Gold caste.

While wealth plays important role in the kyo society, it is the expression of wealth and spending that brings prestige to wealthy, not hoarding of inert valuables. Because all the kyo land and its resources are considered to be imperial property, the government officials are free to requisition any non-personal property for public use and redistribution according to the community and governmental needs, especially from the hoarders that fail to properly use the gathered wealth for the further development of the Radiant Empire.

While there is no prescribed wealth minimum required to reach higher ranks, any ranked kyo is expected to maintain a lifestyle fitting its rank. Failure to upheld the high standards of living or keeping an image of proper behavior may hinder the kyo's ability to advance in rank, or even cause demotion for gross misconduct.

Relations: Kyo are gregarious and social creatures, but their vanity and arrogance can put off other races. As kyo prefer to avoid physical and unclean work, they hire mercenaries, laborers, and artisans as well as buy slaves among other races. They are also more than willing to buy and trade resources and goods with other races, especially luxuries. Their racial pride will push them to buy or otherwise free any kyo being enslaved or imprisoned by another race or polity, using economic, political, magical, or possibly military pressure, as needed.

Alignment And Religion: Kyo obsession on hierarchy, prestige, and proper social behavior disposes them toward lawful alignment with their society as a whole being mostly lawful neutral.

The Radiant Empire's official religion is divided into two branches. The Radiant Sun is an impersonal solar deity of order and enlightenment, bringing structure, pattern, and meaning every morning to the world created by the capricious, distant and chaotic power of the Moon. The second branch of imperial religion is a cult of deified heroes and emperors of the Radiant Empire that are seen as exemplars of proper behavior, progress, and culture.

Adventurers: Kyo appreciation of travelers, explorers, and merchants combined with mild disdain for physical work make them enamored with the picturesque idea of an adventurous entrepreneur discovering new lands, expanding the trade-network, and bringing a touch of civilized culture and proper appreciation of kyo superiority to less developed people. At the same time they are wary of adventurers as rough and unrefined brutes, sadly necessary at the edges of civilization and the wild and barbarous lands. Kyo make particularly effective swashbucklers, bards, sorcerers, and oracles.

Names: Kyo names are long and elaborate, including personal name, family name, regional name, rank-based honorific, function, and one or more nicknames reflecting individual kyo's prestige and fame.

Sample Names: Twi'll'ilith Prrr'ak'at Tterath, third rank initiate of the Radiant Sun, know to his associates as Benevolent Singer.

Kyo Racial Traits

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, –2 Constitution. Kyo are agile and full of grace but their fast avian metabolism makes them susceptible to diseases and less enduring than more rough terrestrial races.

Avian: Kyo are humanoids with avian subtype.

Medium: Kyo are Medium creatures.

Normal Speed: Kyo have base speed of 30 feet.

Heron's Strike: When a kyo readied action is triggered, the kyo gets +2 bonus to attack roll, weapon damage roll, Spellcraft check made to identify spell being cast, concentration check, and to caster level check made to penetrate Spell Resistance or counter a spell with dispel magic.

Memory Of The High Skies: Kyo gain +2 racial bonus to saving throws against light effects and can take a standard action to discern which direction is north. Their inherent aptitude for three-dimensional movement grants them +2 racial bonus to driving checks while controlling flying vehicles. Additionally, they are immune to altitude sickness.

Vestigial Wings: Kyo have vestigial wings that grant them +2 racial bonus to Fly checks and reduce falling damage when conscious and able to act by two dice.

Weapon Familiarity: Kyo are proficient with all bows and treat all kyo racial weapons as martial weapons.

Languages: Kyo begin play speaking Common and Kyo. Kyo with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Aklo, Auran, Celestial, Draconic, Giant, and Tengu.

Kyo Racial Feats

Kyo Gentry

You have been elevated by a member of the imperial family into ranks of the gentry and the Sun blessed you with truly functional wings.
Prerequisites: Kyo vestigial wings, must be officially elevated to a gentry rank.
Benefit: Your wings are fully functional granting you flight speed of 50 feet with average maneuverability. When you fall while being conscious and able of taking actions you reduce falling damage by four dice instead of two.
Special: If you ever lose the gentry status your wings remains fully functional, but you are legally required to bind your wings and may under no circumstances use them to fly. If you are every caught breaking this restriction, or if your loss of rank was caused by a serious transgression the Radiant Empire will punish you with amputation of the wings.

Kyo Equipment

Kyo Skybow: A powerful composite bow that is drawn using both legs and arms and can be only fired while flying or lying prone. Kyo skybow is an exotic weapon that inflict 2d6 points of piercing damage with critical multiplier of x4 and range increment of 100 feet. It weights 4 pounds and costs 200 gp.

Favored Class Options

Bard: Add +1/3 to saving throws made against bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects.

Paladin: Add +1 foot to the radius of channel positive energy ability.

Oracle: Add +1/2 to concentration checks made to cast an air or light spell, or to avoid being distracted during casting by weather or movement.

Sorcerer: Add +1/2 to damage inflicted with air and electricity spells.

Summoner: Add +1/6 daily use of summon monster class ability.

Swashbuckler: Add +1/2 to the swashbuckler's initiative checks.

30 June 2015

Fantasy Races: Therigens

Therigens

Children of the forest, dwellers of the burrows, therigens are descendants of fey animals—sapient beasts of the Otherworld that came to live in the mortal world for so long they grew mortal themselves. Each therigen resembles an animal—the most common themes are badgers, beavers, black bears, bobcats, foxes, hares, hawks, hedgehogs, lizards, moles, newts, otters, owls, polecats, raccoons, toads, tortoises, vipers, wild pigs, weasels, and wolves. Other forms are possible but less common. Despite their physical differences all therigens are single species breeding true, with their animal theme being a reflection of their individual spirit and personality and not genetics. Therigens have no problems, nor taboos involving coupling of therigens of different themes and it bears only marginal influence over the theme of their progeny—it would be very rare for two therigens whose themes belong to the same class (two mammalian-themed therigens for example) to have child of different class (avian, amphibian, or reptilian), but couple of therigens of different classes could have progeny of any class. Even twin siblings can have different animal theme, corresponding to their individual personalities. Interestingly, therigens can breed with gnomes, with the rare progeny being particularly brightly colored therigen.

While therigens are fully sentient beings, they have a strong affinity for their primal, animalistic side, with limited patience for abstract and over-complex ideas. Their memories and analytical abilities tend to be slightly worse than of typical humanoids but they excel at sheer stubbornness and intuition.

Therigens grow fruits and vegetables in gardens and orchards near their dwellings, but avoid grains and other large scale farming. They often keep small animals and bees, supplementing their diet by gathering wild plants, hunting, and fishing. Consuming flesh of a dead sapient being is not only accepted but also viewed as sign of respect toward the deceased, turning funerals into happy feasts. Some of the darker therigens rituals involve sacrifice of a volunteer, or a randomly drawn member of the community, often involving public feasting on the sacrifice.

Physical Description: Therigens look like anthropomorphic animals, usually around five to five and a half feet tall. All posses fully functional hands. Their coloration matches natural coloration of animal they resemble but as they age and grow in individual power the tone and intensity may slowly shift beyond the normal ranges of their animal theme. Interestingly, while animal theme varies greatly between parents and their children, the coloration is more often consistent between close kin.

Society: Therigens live in small communities of few dozen individuals. They tend to form nuclear families that live in burrows, hollowed tress, shallow caves, and simple huts spread across certain area, instead of forming densely populated settlements. Therigens traditionally call their dwellings and their close surroundings "manors" with therigen or therigens family inhabiting particular manor having the right of first harvest of resources within the nearby area. The community composed of multiple manors is usually called a court and follows one of the three Laws: Green Law, Blue Law, or Red Law, sets of customs that are enforced by therigen rituals.

The Green Law favors coexistence. Therigens living according to it cooperate at maintaining ecological balance of their region, perform joint rites intended to bring abundance of nature's bounty on the area and help defend each other against monsters and intruders.

The Blue Law is the law of non-interference and chosen by therigens wishing to live apart and undisturbed. There is little cooperation, except for the threats to the whole region. The therigens are expected to respect each others and their regions, with a limited right of passage. Blue Law rituals focus on empowering privacy.

The Red Law is brutal and unforgiving. It gives therigens absolute dominion over their manors, including power over life and death of their children and their guests.

Both Green and Blue Law consider murdering another therigen of the court a grave crime. The Red Law on the other hand, only considers killing a therigen in his own manor a crime. Intruders and uninvited guests can be killed and eaten with impunity. Feasting on own children or an invited guest is considered a very bad form but is not forbidden. Blue Law also does not punish eating own children.

Therigens usually mate for life. Domination of one partner over the other is quite common and widely accepted but is based on individual personalities, not genders.

Relations: Therigens feel a degree of kinship with other benign animalistic races: catfolk, grippli, kitsune, ratfolk, tengu, and vanara, often calling them "cousins" or "bigger siblings". They are quite warm toward gnomes, another Otherworldly immigrants. They prefer to keep their distance from other humanoids, especially those less attuned to nature like humans and dwarves.

Alignment And Religion: With their affinity to nature and spirits, therigens typically gravitate toward some degree of neutrality. Green Law courts tend to have more good aligned denizens, while Red Law courts are often populated by evil ones. Therigens usually worship spirits and deities of nature, both benevolent and cruel, and they keep lords and ladies of the fair folk in great reverence.

Adventurers: Therigens usually become adventurers because of curiosity or to search for a new place to live. Many begin their careers by dealing with the problems of their manor and court, and then move to bigger adventures. They often become druids, rangers, and shamans, followed by a number of ferocious and bestial therigens barbarians. Arcane casters, clerics, monks, and paladins are exceptionally rare vocations for therigens.

Names: Therigen names vary but they tend to either reflect sounds issues by their animal theme or sounds associated with their animal theme. They do not use family names, instead using toponymic by-names, derived from their birth court, or their manor.

Sample Names: Hark Of The Fangdale, Twirlit Songmanor, Graur Boneglade.

Therigen Racial Traits:

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Intelligence. Therigens are full of vitality and in tune with their animalistic side, but they have hard time dealing with abstract concepts.

Fey: Therigens are fey.

Medium Size: Therigens are Medium creatures.

Normal Speed: Therigens have land speed of 30 feet.

Low-light Vision: Therigens see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.

Animalistic Spirit: Therigens can be affected by harmless effects that target animals and can select Aspect of The Beast feat without meeting its prerequisites.

Bite: Therigens have a bite natural attack, dealing 1d4 points of damage.

Native Land: Each therigen selects one terrain type from among forest, mountains, plains, swamp, and underground gaining +2 racial bonus to Survival and Stealth checks within such environment.

Wild Blessing: Each therigen has one of the following abilities: climb 20 feet, darkvision 60 ft, +1 natural armor, +10 feet land speed, swim 30 feet. The ability should fit the therigen's animal theme.

Languages: Common and Sylvan. Therigens with high Intelligence can choose from the following: Aquan, Elven, Giant, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, and Terran.

Therigens Racial Feats
Therigens can select following feats enhancing their racial abilities.

Therigens Elder
Other therigens elders found your knowledge of fey things deep enough to teach you how to lead theirgens rituals.
Prerequisites: Knowledge (nature) 5 ranks, therigen.
Benefit: You were taught minutiae of therigens rituals and went through initiation required to lead them.

Favored Class Options
Therigens can select following options for their favored class bonuses.

Barbarian: Add +1 to the barbarian's total numbers of rage rounds per day.

Druid: Add +1/3 to the druid's natural armor bonus while using wild shape.

Hunter: Add +1/2 to the total number of minutes the animal focus can be used per day.

Metamorph: Add +1/4 to the metamorph's evolution pool.

Ranger: Add +1/4 to saving throws while in native land.

Shaman: The shaman gains 1/6 of a shaman hex.

Slayer: Add +1/4 to attack and damage rolls while in native land.

Witch: Add +1/4 to caster level checks and concentration checks within the native land.

29 May 2015

Cultures: Ilutan

Ilutan

Ilutans are a group of related tribes of horse nomads living on large stretch of temperate steppe stretching between a mountain range an inland sea.

Cosmology And Religion

For Ilutans, the Earth, the Sky, and the Night are primordial powers of the world. The Earth and the Sky are lovers of indefinite, or even shifting genders, but the Night is invariably feminine. The Sky and the Night appear in various myths as different aspects of the same entity or twin siblings. Beyond the boundaries of the Earth, the Sky, and the Night lies the Abyss, containing things without form or name. Physical manifestation of the Abyss is the Sea, which Ilutans view as discontinuity in the body of the Earth, through which namless seeps into the world in the form (or more accurately formlessness) of salt water.

The primary ritual measurement of time for Ilutans are sunrises and sunsets—viewed as unions of the Earth and the Sky, and lunar months, which are considered to be birth, growth, and demise of the Earth and the Sky's child.

The world is considered to be full of numerous spirits with different attitudes and interests. Spirits tend to be capricious, often cunning, and sometimes malicious. Talismans and amulets of various kinds are popular among Ilutan to ward off the malicious and capricious spirits, and to attract benign ones.

Food

Meat and milk are primary ingredients of the nomads' fare. Wild fruits, starchy roots, and honey of steppe bees are common supplements of their diet. Agricultural produce is viewed as inferior food, used mainly as fill and reserve for lean times. The most favored is meat of herd buffaloes, sheeps, and goats, and hunted antelopes. Wild fowl and their eggs are readily eaten as snacks, but they lack the esteem given to meat of four legged animals. Pork and poultry are considered inferior meat, suitable primarily to settled people, and are eaten only when there is no other meat available. Ilutans do not eat foods derived from sea, except for the salt due to association of the Sea with the Abyss. Freshwater fish and shellfish are occasionally eaten but are treated with suspicion.

Ilutans drink large amount of milk, but their favorite beverage is fermented honey, often mixed with wild fruits, and sometimes with milk. Some Ilutans developed taste for wine and ale, traded for or taken by force from settled neighbors. Part of available milk is processed into salty butter, yogurt, and cheese, readily eaten at all times.

Available food is shared during tribal rites or famine, with people that contributed to acquiring available food having choice of better portions than the rest.

Sex, Marriage, and Family Life

Ilutans have rather relaxed attitudes to sex and sexuality, with only few strict rules.

After sex, a person should refrain from having different sexual partner until the Earth and the Sky unite three times. Having different partner in this time is considered to be physically and spiritually unhealthy. Strictly speaking this restriction does not apply to twins, for they are considered to be a single person spiritually.

There is no inhibition about sex in public, but preferred is certain degree of privacy, to avoid friendly advice, ribald jokes, and occasional words, songs, and sounds of encouragement delivered by amused bystanders.

Marriage is an act of will of both spouses. A pair needs only to publicly announce their marriage and together prepare a meal for witnesses. Potential spouses cannot share grandmother. It is still allowed for people sharing grandmother—but not mother—to participate in sexual activity a long as it could not lead to conception, though.

Spouses are obligated to maintain sexual fidelity for seven unions of the Earth and the Sky since their last intercourse with their married partner. After this time they can legitimately appease their needs with another partner. Catching a spouse during the act of infidelity allows the wronged spouse to beat the paramour on the spot (but not at later time if the paramour successfully flees) as long as no long term injury is caused. The unfaithful spouse can be punished in some imaginative and annoying way, again, as long as no long term injury is caused, with escape providing no protection from the punishment aside delaying it until later. Shaving some or all of the spouse hair, painting his or her face face with green or blue dye, forbidding consumption of meat or alcohol for the next fourteen unions of the Earth and the Sky, or lashing the spouse's rear with stinging nettles are all common punishments.

Marriage is for life, but Ilutans are allowed to leave their spouses in case of impotence or frigidity, crippling injury, curse, incurable disease, or exile.

Biological paternity is of little relevance socially and there is no social stigma associated with births by unmarried women. Spouse is responsible for playing primary role in supporting and teaching children of a woman, but the tribe cooperates deeply in care for children.

Ilutans recognize between physical gender ("sex of flesh"), spiritual gender ("sex of spirit"), and social gender ("sex of tribe" corresponding to division between preference for masculine roles of herding and hunting, and feminine role of crafting). It is expected that sexual partners should have some set of complementary genders, but it is not obligatory outside of marriage. Most Ilutans have some degree of sexual experience with both sexes during their teenage years.

Social Life And Values

The primary values for Ilutans are matrilineal kinship (including people sharing common ancestress), personal freedom, and bond between comrades in arms. The following value are tribal bonds, and then camaraderie between various Ilutan tribes.

Forceful coercion is serious crime against freedom, but lies and deception are acceptable forms of manipulation.

Fighting together against common foe or surviving a calamity together is considered to be a source of strong spiritual bond only slightly weaker than blood kinship bonds, and in case of exceptional enemies, and great cataclysms may be considered equal to them.

Ilutans are not paying large attention to promises and oaths ("speaking is easier than spitting", "words don't harm"), they are fond of bawdy jokes, witty invectives, and exaggerated boasts.

Private property is very loose concept. Except for intimate possessions (weapons, amulets, talismans, clothing, trophies, jewelry, favored mount), sharing belongings with other members of the family and the tribe is common, but a compensation is expected if the possession is broken or its utility is exhausted in some way. Property is only protected within the tribe, so there is no restrictions about stealing belongings of other tribes, as long as the act does not endanger either tribes or causes direct or indirect injury.

Ilutans of all sexes love wearing various gold and silver jewelry but they do not consider it particularly valuable ("can't catch antelope with gold", "silver does not quench thirst"). Gold, silver, and bronze coins are often used as adornment—after being drilled they are made into necklaces and earrings or sewn onto clothing and armor. High quality iron and steel is viewed as more valuable than "colored" metals, especially in the form of weapons, arrowheads, tools, needles, and horseshoes.

Settled people are treated with mild contempt as fearing freedom of nomadic life, with the exception for settled magicians, smiths, and miners.

Justice And Punishment

Ilutans judge offences according to the harm caused to kinfolk and tribe, with tribal rally determining the fitting verdict.

The most severe punishment is exile, reserved for people who brought great harm on the tribe, greatly violated freedom of another member of the tribe, deliberately crippled another member of the tribe, stole amulet belonging to another member of the tribe, or is bearing sickness or curse threatening the tribe. Involuntarily bringing serious harm three times is considered to be a sign of dangerous curse. Additionally, anyone who disagrees with a final decision of the tribe on any matter can go on exile voluntarily, taking only his personal belongings.

Lesser punishment is social ostracism—exclusion from social and ritual life of the tribe for a set amount of time. Ostracized member of the tribe keeps the right to meager share of food during famine (but not during tribal rites) but is denied right of choice of portion and has to satisfy with scraps left after others.

Both the exile and the ostracism can take greater or lesser form. Greater form is binding to all the tribe members, including kinfolk, spouse, and comrades in arms  of the punished while the lesser form has no hold over close ones.

Ilutan justice focuses mostly on compensation for wrongdoings. Destroying or damaging property prompts demand of replacing the loss. Temporary injury requires providing the injured and his close ones with adequate support. Permanent injuries usually require compensation in form of herd animals, in number deemed adequate by the tribe. An offender lacking the means to provide compensation to the victim is subject to ostracism, unless he ventures on a journey to acquire such means or offers to provide services to the victim—the offender can ask the tribe to set a period of servitude adequate to his offense.

All judgments are taken by all the tribe members currently present in the camp. The sides present their arguments and demands, and witnesses state their knowledge of circumstances of the event. During the judgement all the tribe members can speak sharing their thoughts and opinions about the case discussed. Once started, the judgement has to be continued until its resolution. The adult tribe members can't eat nor drink alcohol (they can refresh themselves with non-alcoholic beverages), sleep, have sex or participate in other activities. They can only leave the assembly to relive themselves. Breaking those rules or deliberate extending the debate can be punished with ostracism.

Intertribal judgments are rare and restricted to long term injuries caused by a member of one tribe to a member of the other tribe, stealing of horses or herd animals, and disputes over pastures or watering places. Intertribal judgments usually take form of negotiations and can easily lead to minor skirmishes, but escalation of violence is frowned upon unless the initial dispute was over death of Ilutan belonging to either tribe.

Death

Ilutan have rather vague ideas about afterlife, focusing more on their current life. Common belief is that spirits of women can remain in touch with their descents providing them with good luck and protection against malicious spirits while the male spirits wander the world unseen until their essence slowly disperses between the Earth and the Sky. Spirits of people that performed outstanding deeds can be reborn within their bloodline or more rarely tribe. People who died due to treachery of a kinfolk or a comrade in arms, sorcery, serious sickness, terrible misfortune, or childbirth may raise as vicious, hateful wraiths.

During the funeral the favored mount of the deceased is sacrificed and its roasted meat is shared between people present. Personal belongings of the dead are shared between kinfolk, comrades, and friends, the rest are shared within tribe as needed. The corpse is left naked under open sky, on the sacrificed mount's stretched skin, with the mount's skull placed under the head, and covered with a mat woven out of dry grass. A piece of roasted meat and a bottle or at least a cup of fermented honey with milk and blood are left in the body's reach.

Bodies of people that are suspected to raise as wraiths are buried hunched under small stone cairns. Those who committed treachery against their kin or comrades are taken to the sea coast and thrown from cliffs together with all their belongings while magicians are cremated and their ashes and bones are used to make amulets for the tribe.

Magic

Ilutans are suspiciously respectful when it comes to magic. Protective amulets are very commonly employed as wards against malicious spirits, disease, and misfortune, and talismans are often carried to bring good luck and prosperity.

Unlike many other peoples, Ilutans do not consider writing magical ("lie written down remains lie", "writing down my name does not take it away"). They employ writing rarely, relying on oral traditions instead.

Practitioners of magic can be members of the tribes, but do not have to. Magicians that remain part of the tribe are expected to use their magical abilities for the benefit of the tribe. Magicians that live apart of the tribe can demand payments for their services. Known magicians are often given gifts to ensure their future favors. Ilutan magicians that do not belong to the tribes are usually settled. Often, it is a need for permanent abode and immovable magical paraphernalia such as herb gardens, binding circles, libraries, or consecrated space, that made the magician leave the tribe. Settled magicians often sever their blood ties with their kinfolk, as well.