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 has two state religions. 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 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 receive Animal Soul as a bonus feat at 1st level 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, Animal Soul feat, 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.

22 May 2015

Wayfinder #13 is live! (for definitions of life acceptable in Ustalav)

And after another half a year shorter period because of PaizoCon moving to an earlier date, a new issue of Wayfinder is >here< This time it is dedicated to Ustalav, a region of Paizo's Golarion inspired and shaped by gothic horror stories, Ravenloft, and things that go bump in the night...

This time, my contribution is "Rituals Secret And Superstitious" article presenting a few new feats and rogue talents. Yes, no bestiary entry this time—this is a printed issue and thus the space is limited, meaning that my submitted monster hadn't made the cut.

30 April 2015

Fantasy Races: Azan

Azan
(both singular and plural, adjective is azani)

Azan are ancient people whose arrogance overshadows their deceptively innocent appearance. Their civilization mastered arcane magic, alchemy, and engineering, blending them to create wonders undreamed of by the less developed races. In their intellectual advancement they slowly went beyond inefficient sexual reproduction and moved to growing their children via alchemy, perfecting their very own design and weeding out the undesirable traits. Or so they vehemently claim. The truth is, that between their culture being already accustomed to low reproduction rate, extended longevity, dedication to arcane and scientific studies more than social and family life, costs and time need to grow a new azan, and occasional flaws in the growing process itself, the azan are exceptionally rare for a self-proclaimed intellectual masters of the world.

Azan wishing for a progeny has to build, purchase, or otherwise acquire growing vat, as well as numerous alchemical ingredients required for the reproduction process. Multiple azan often pool their resources to share burdens, responsibilities, and benefits of breeding acting as batch parents together. Such cabals often grow single azan progeny for each of the batch parents. The growing process produces a fully functional young adult and implants basic knowledge of azani language, culture, and the skills needed for the individual's planned apprenticeship—with batch siblings sharing tint of their skin and their skill predisposition. There is little love for the progeny, though, for the child is almost invariably seen as an investment by its batch parents. Azani culture considers a newly grown azan an indentured apprentice to its batch parents until its servitude repays the costs of its creation, usually with a hefty interest, especially if the batch parents suffered from failed growing attempts before. Apprenticeship on average lasts for 7—10 years after which, the progeny might be retained as an assistant, sent as an envoy to perform services away from its parent, or dismissed to live independently.


Physical Description: An azan looks somewhat like a pale, hairless, sometimes a bit chubby child with totally inhuman beady black eyes. It's skin is very smooth and usually white or pale grey in color, often with a slight blue, green, or violet tint, depending upon exact formula and technique used in growth of the batch it was part of. Sexual dimorphism was breed out ages ago, as purposeless—azan genders determine little except the names chosen for the progeny. Very old azan might grow a small amount of hair on their chins, tips of their ears and rear of their heads but it is quite rare, unlike the wrinkles and pronounced veins that commonly mar the skin of elder azan.

The modern azan appearance is the result of deliberate slowing and later completly stopping the body development at an early stage—ancient azan were probably fully developed Medium-sized humanoids.

Society: Azan organize themselves in cabals (small groups that share interests, goals, and resources), colleges (larger networks that share information about related interests and exchange information), and corporations (groups that control specific resources or technologies). Majority of azan live in small outposts where all activity goes around a cabal or two. Larger azani settlements are usually governed by a college or corporation serving primarily as a focal point for interest of the group.

Azan dedication to mastering arcane magic, alchemy, engineering, and blending them into a combined science borders with obsession. Advances in this fields allow them to offset their minuscule population, however, with their creations used as tools and workforce tending to the needs of azan and freeing them to pursue higher callings.

Azani settlements are marvels of engineering and magic, using short-range portals, extradimensional space, guardian constructs, mechanized factories, and mutated flora and fauna whenever possible.

Relations: Azan see themselves as intellectually and culturally superior to other races. Individual and group attitudes range from patronizing benevolence to shameless exploitation, with isolationism being the dominant policy among cabals and colleges. While the azan prefer to believe that other races have little to offer to them in field of science, research, and culture, they are aware of their own need for raw resources and occasionally trade with non-azan. They favor controlling the raw source of materials, though, building their outposts in locations allowing them to control the harvest and refinement of the resource.

Alignment And Religion: Azan tend to favor either distancing themselves from gods, seeing reliance on them as undermining the azani overarching goal of cultural, magical, and technological superiority, or viewing the gods and their magic as another resource to be exploited while pursuing those goals.

Azan philosophy is based on viewing the universe as inherently chaotic system, with azani intellectual superiority being the sole way of imposing meaningful and lasting patterns.

Adventurers: Azan obvious superiority means praise of lesser races is irrelevant, but gaining reputation among other azan might be occasionally helpful. Most azan prefer to become adventureres for more utilitarian purposes, though, collecting raw resources, research materials, rare ingredients, exotic specimens, and sheer wealth that will help finance their future works and research. As the arcane magic, alchemy, and technology are the most favored azani vocations, alchemists, arcanists, investigators, sorcerers, summoners, and wizards are the most common classes among azan. A few martially oriented azan prefer bloodragers and magi, and oracles are majority of the rare azani divine casters.

Names: Azan have a first name that is short and often sharp, one or two syllables, followed by a batch name that is composed of the first names of all the parents and the number of batch they created together, and then followed by ranks and organizations they belong to. Azan that are still in their indenture period are expected to precede their name with "apprentice" while respected azan may claim the honorific of master before their name.

Sample Names: Zix CortValDax III, fractalist of Pyromantic College, inductor of ValDax corporation.

Azani Racial Traits

Ability Scores: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength. Azan are intellectually superior, and inherently confident about that, but their small frames are muscle-deficient.

Type: Azan are humanoids with azan subtype.

Small Size: Azan are Small creatures gaining +1 size bonus to attack rolls and AC, –1 size penalty to CMB and CMD, and +4 size bonus to Stealth checks.

Slow Speed: Azan have land speed of 20 feet.

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

Apprentice Training: Azan have a +2 racial bonus to single Intelligence- or Wisdom-based skill selected when they are grown. They always treat their apprentice training skill as class skill.

Magetech (Sp): Once per day, Azan with Intelligence score of 11 or more can spend 1 minute building a small techno-magical device that will replicate effects of single 0th level spell. Using this ability requires access to proper tools, and the way the device works should be somewhat related to the azan's apprentice training skill. Replicating a spell with costly components require using materials of equal value during the construction process. The device falls apart if used or when a new one is build. Any saving throws and concentration checks required by the use of device use the azan's Intelligence score.

Magetech Lore: Azan gain a +2 racial bonus to Disable Device and Use Magic Device checks.

Languages: Common and Azan. Azan with high Intelligence can choose any non-secret language they want.

Azani Racial Feats
Azan can select following feats enhancing their racial abilities.

Azani Supervisor
You are supervising a college or corporation of your own.
Prerequisites: Azan, character level 7th.
Benefit: This feat works like Leadership feat, but uses Intelligence instead of Charisma to determine your leadership score and all the followers are azan. The cohort has to be either an azan, a construct, or your magical, mechanical, or alchemical creation.

Magetech Initiate
Your magetech devices last until you disassemble them or break them.
Prerequisite: Magetech racial trait.
Benefit: The magetech device replicating effects of 0th level spell you built can be used any number of times. It still falls apart if you build another one.

Magetech Servitor
You have constructed yourself a servant following your simple orders.
Prerequisite: Magetech racial trait.
Benefit: You have a Tiny magetech servitor that follows your simple orders, having a functionality of constant unseen servant spell, except it can be easily destroyed with attacks (AC 12, 1 hit point, always fails saving throws). If the servitor breaks or is destroyed you can rebuild it with your set of tools with one hour of work.

Azani Equipment

Growing Vat: This is a complex alchemical device, composed of a large crystal container with a tangle of pipes, valves, power cords, and gauges required to complete the process of growing a new azan or a batch of them. Growing vat weighing about half a ton and costs 1,000 gp for a vat capable of holding up to six growing azan seeds. Growing a young azan in a vat requires components costing another 1,000 gp and takes about three years.

Magetech Tools, Basic: A basic set of tools used for constructing, repairing, and salvaging azani magetech. Weighs 5 lbs and costs 100 gp.

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

Alchemist: Gain 1/6 of a new alchemist discovery.

Arcanist: Gain 1/6 of a new arcanist exploit.

Bard: Maximum level of a spell replicated with magetech device increases by 1/4. This applies to single device per day, even if the character can create more than one per day.

Investigator: Gain a +1/4 bonus on all inspiration rolls.

Machinesmith: Gain 1/2 follower. Each such follower is an expert 1 level higher than the previous one.

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

Rogue: Add +1/2 to number of magetech uses per day.

SorcererThe sorcerer adds +1/2 use of a 1st level bloodline power that can be normally used 3 + the sorcerer's Charisma modifier per day.

Summoner: Add +1/4 to the eidolon's evolution pool.

Witch: Add +1/4 evolution point to the witch's familiar.

Wizard: The wizard adds +1/2 use of a 1st level school power that can be normally used 3 + the wizard's Intelligence modifier per day. 

23 March 2015

Terrors Of Obsidian Apocalypse: Haunts

A creeping pool of raw ectoplasm, a haunted door, a cell where hanging took place, a bed of lover strangled, all those places were tainted by fear and death, and now wait to scare intruders... Or even take their lives.

A small but neat package of haunts is waiting for you.


I never before used haunts in Pathfinder so large part of the design process of this piece included learning the haunt building rules.

12 February 2015

Metamorph Love!

Since metamorph is already here, with publication of Liber Influxus Communis (or here, or here), I wanted to show some love for it with a few new options. Completely incidentally and not in any relation to incoming Valentine's Day some of those options will be related to gender and sexuality. Yes. Definitely no connection here.


New Evolutions:

Some of the following evolutions might not be suitable for every campaign or style of play, depending upon themes and topics included or excluded in your game. Apparently some groups don't reference sexuality, or reproduction in any way in their games. Number in bracket after the name of evolution is the evolution base point cost. Metamorph was written with (deliberately) unwieldy neutral form in mind—I imagined iconic metamorph to be genderless from the start. That's why the text uses it or its while referring to singular metamorph (except when speaking about metamorphs of specific gender like in case of control fertility evolution).

Control Fertility (Ex) [1 point]: Simple control of one's reproductive organs is child's play for anyone who already mastered much higher degree of control over one's body. Metamorph with this evolution has unerring mastery over one's fertility. Male metamorphs in addition to deciding between providing fertile or inert seed, can also decide the gender of their offspring. Female metamorphs only become pregnant willingly, can conceive female progeny via parthenogenesis, can suspend very early pregnancy for up to twelve months, can terminate pregnancy without outside means, or induce early labor.

Metamorphs who spend additional evolution point have greater influence over the capabilities of their progeny, and can decide which of the ability scores will be the highest and which will be the lowest.

Cosmetic Feature (Ex) [1 points]: A metamorph can manifest one or more unusual but minor appearance traits, such as strange eye, hair, or skin color combination, skin patterns, differently shaped nose, eyes, or ears. Cosmetic feature grants +2 bonus to Bluff checks made to distract or Perform checks made to entertain observers but must be deliberately concealed while trying to use Disguise skill.

Genderless (Ex) [1 point]: A metamorph adjusts its body becoming genderless and asexual, both physically and mentally. The metamorph is immune to any attempts of seduction, and any effects that manipulate or rely on gender, sexuality, or lust (e.g. unnatural lust spell), and gains +4 bonus to saving throws against charm effects. While any metamorph can develop this evolution it is particularly appropriate for reconstructed phenotype.

Gendermorph (Ex) [2 point]: A metamorph can switch it physical sex after eight hours of rest. The change adjusts the metamorph's physical appearance to match the new gender but does not mask it, the metamorph is still recognizable but gains +20 bonus to Bluff, and Disguise checks made to pretend to be close relative of oneself of opposite gender.

A metamorph that spends 2 additional evolution points on this ability can switch its gender quickly. Such change is a supernatural ability that requires expenditure of a vital surge and takes a full round.

Hermaphrodite [1 point]: A metamorph develops functional sexual and reproductive traits of both genders becoming attractive to both genders and capable of reproduction with either.

Prime Mate (Ex) [1 point]: A metamorph's becomes more attractive gaining +2 bonus to Charisma ability and skill checks made to interact socially with creatures attracted to the metamorph's apparent race and gender.

Sleepless (Ex) [1 point]: A metamorph no longer sleeps and becomes immune to magical sleep effects. It still needs to rest to refresh its spells and special abilities.

A metamorph can spend 1 additional evolution point to become immune to non-magical effects that induce sleep.

Smell Magic (Su) [2 point]: A metamorph can smell magic auras. Requires scent evolution or ability.

A metamorph can spend 1 additional evolution point to be able to recognize school of magic involved.

Favored Class Options:

The following options are available to metamorphs of various races in place of standard favored class bonus.

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

Dhampir: Gain 1 point of resistance to positive energy damage.

Drow: Add +1/3 to save DC of one evolution (maximum +2 to any one evolution).

Dwarf: Add +1 to healing provided by vitality surge.

Elf: Add +1 to the number of times per days the metamorph can use spell-like ability gained from basic magic or minor magic evolutions. The number of times this bonus is selected for minor magic cannot exceed number of times it was selected for basic magic.

Ghoran: Add 1 to a number of berries affected with goodberries spell-like ability and the maximum number of hit points that the ghoran can heal by eating goodberries each day.

Gillman: Add +1 to swim speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the metamorph has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Gnome: Add +1 to range of blindsense, blindsight, lifesight, scent, termorsense and other evolutions that grant new senses. In combat this option has no effect unless the metamorph has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Half-elf: Add +1/3 to number of vitality surges.

Half-orc: Add +1/3 to number of vitality surges.

Halfling: Add +1 to land speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the metamorph has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Hobgoblin: Add +1/6 to natural armor.

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

Kobold: Add +1 point to damage of breath weapon evolution.

Lashunta: Add +10 feet to range of telepathy or limited telepathy special abilities.

Nagaji: Add +1/6 to natural armor.

Strix: Add +5 to fly speed.

Vanara: Add +1 to climb speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the metamorph has selected it five times (or another increment of five).