30 July 2014

Fantasy Races: Xenopi


Xenopi are strange, but generally gregarious and friendly octopus-like beings. Amphibious in nature, xenopi prefer shallow warm seas, warm swamps, and tropical jungles and avoid cold or dry environments. Unlike many sapient races, xenopi are hermaphrodites, without tendency to perceive world in dualistic categories typical to binary gendered species. Xenopi have very casual approach to their sexuality, mating, and reproduction — they are equally happy with long passionate caresses and with matter-of-fact rubbing of secondary tentacles with friendly members of their species. Fertilized eggs hatch into plankton-like larvae that are occasionally released in salt water around xenopi settlements. Growing larvae are mostly ignored by xenopi and tread like a part of local fauna until their bio-luminescent glands develop enough to communicate. Interestingly, all xenopi seem to share inherent understanding of written form of Aklo language, allowing them to communicate as soon as their glands develop, which occurs before development of full sapience. Sub-sapient near adults gravitate towards the nearest xenopi community where they observe, mimic adults, learn, and sometimes even complete simple tasks. During this phase they are treated more like animals — domesticated pets at best, or pests at worst, until they achieve full adulthood, full intelligence, and master ability to communicate and understand complex abstract ideas.

As mostly aquatic species, xenopi never developed native metallurgy or other fire-based technologies, instead relying on coral shaping, bone carving, harvesting chitin, and breeding specialized plants, oozes, jellies, and other invertebrates for their purposes. Jungle and swamp communities also invented their own strain of mostly organic-based alchemy. Despite their path of development, xenopi sometimes use metal tools and trinkets acquired from land-dwellers through barter for their own exotic products, but never become dependent on them.

Physical Description: A xenopi looks like a fur-covered octopus, with two long manipulator tentacles, two shorter tentacles that act both as secondary manipulators and sexual organs and four medium length tentacles that are primary used for locomotion. The fur is actually a unique skin growth instead of mammalian hair and contains luminescent glands capable of showing complex patterns, including letters, sigils or even simple pictures. Because of the role of the glands in xenopi communication, they avoid wearing clothing, unless they deliberately try to blend in with humanoid races.

Society: Because of the way they reproduce xenopi lack any sort of family or blood bonds, instead viewing all the adult and near adult individuals of their race as a distant kin. Lack of inherent bonds and weak sense of ownership makes xenopi communities very flexible — individuals move between roles, functions, and communities, according to their desires, plans and sense of need. Xenopi communities are functionally cooperatives that rely on individuals volunteering to take specific functions, possibly with duplication of roles if multiple xenopi desire specific function. While the communities are efficient and reasonable in use of available resources, including unwillingness to waste them, they do not feel tied to place, and are willing to relocate to different place if the local resources are depleted, or threats overshadow benefits of the resources present.

Relations: For a bizarre alien race, xenopi are surprisingly friendly species, deeply interested in other races — too interested for the more wary humanoids. Many subtle and not so subtle differences in their biology, culture, and outlook make the interaction awkward or even outrightly creepy. Xenopi often misunderstand or misinterpret humanoid customs, such as equating shaking hands with mating, children with pets or pests, and completely failing to discern between stronger and weaker relationships, and higher and lower ranks.

Alignment And Religion: Without innate sense of possession selfishness and greed are rare traits among xenopi — occasional evil xenopi tend toward callousness, ruthlessness, or outright cruelty instead, with last being often flavored with morbid curiosity. While xenopi are naturally predisposed toward sharing and generosity, their lack of understanding of humanoid races tempers their compassion. Additionally they do not seem to understand forgiveness, being merciless toward those who hurt them — rarely however, being unjustly and excessively vengeful. Most of xenopi gravitate toward neutral with mild good and chaotic tendencies, with lawful and evil alignments being rarer. Xenopi do not worship deities — they are aware of existence of uncaring elder gods, whose power they occasionally tap, while trying to avoid drawing their attention at the same time. A very few chose to follow the younger deities, seeing them more akin to allies than patrons to be served. Even a smaller number of xenopi are nihilists actively serving (or at least believing they serve) the Great Old Ones and trying to gather attention of those unspeakable entities and call their spiritual or physical presence on unprepared worlds.

Adventurers: Xenopi are naturally inquisitive race, often adventuring in search for lost or new knowledge, but they seem to lack greed for physical possessions beyond things that are or might be actually needed. Physical violence is avoided unless needed, except by the rare cruel xenopi, but even those try to be indirect. Most adventuring xenopi are spellcasters of some sort, with wizards and alchemists being the most common, with many magi and witches mixed into the blend. Some represent more exotic disciplines of magic, such as sorcerers, summoners, and oracles.

Personal Names: When interacting with other races, xenopi respond to being named by their favorite color (or combination thereof) and geometric patterns, like Blue-Triangle, Green-Dot-In-Yellow-Circle or Red-Purple-Green.

Full Names: Xenopi real names are untranslatable series of Aklo sigils that can be only vaguely approximated with sounds humanoids are capable of issuing.

Xenopi Racial Traits

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Dexterity. Xenopi rubbery, boneless bodies are very resilient and their alien minds are highly analytical but their tentacles lack precision and coordination of humanoid hands.

Type: Xenopi are Aberrations with aquatic subtype and amphibious quality.

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

Slow Speed: Xenopi have land speed of 20 feet.

Darkvision: Xenopi see in darkness up to 60 feet.

Amphibious: Xenopi are amphibious beings capable of breathing air and water with equal ease.

Bioluminescence: Xenopi have bioluminescent glands spread over their bodies allowing them to glow with light comparable to torch. Xenopi can change the exact color of the glow, reduce its brightness or suppress it completely with a free action. Xenopi control over bioluminescent glands allow them to communicate inaudibly by displaying Aklo symbols on their bodies.

Climb: Xenopi tentacles and suckers grant them climb speed of 20 feet and +8 racial bonus to Climb checks.

Non-humanoid: Xenopi shape is distinctly different from that of humanoid races. Xenopi require custom made gear costing twice as much as humanoid gear.

Swim: Xenopi have swim speed of 30 feet and +8 racial bonus to Swim checks.

Languages: Common and Aklo. Xenopi with above average Intelligence can select from Abyssal, Aquan, Protean, Terran, and Undercommon.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Pygmy Xenopi: A minute strain of xenopi is Tiny instead of Small and has -4 racial penalty to Strength score.

Xenopi Racial Feats
Xenopi can select following racial feats enhancing their racial abilities:

Luminous Bond
Your close companions share your bioluminescence.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait.
Benefit: Your animal companions (or mount that works like animal companion), eidolons, familiars, and similar bonded companions grow bioluminescent glands like yours. If you posses a bonded item gained via arcane bond feature, or black blade feature you can make it glow with light, as per cantrip of the same name, at will. Additionally, whenever your form is changed by a polymorphy effect, you can opt to manifest bioluminescent glands on your new form.

Luminous Ink
Some xenopi learned how to excrete a small amount of bioluminescent fluid from their glands.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait.
Benefit: You can draw ink from own glands that will glow with pale bioluminescence for 24 hours. Signs drawn with this ink are clearly visible in darkness but are not strong enough to provide any sort of illumination. Once per day you can draw a vial of more potent ink that can be used to leave mark glowing with strength of light spell for 24 hours. It can also be used as an additional material component for any spell with light descriptor or one that creates magical sigils, glyphs, symbols or writings, applying Extended Spell metamagic feat to the modified spell for free. Collected ink loses its special qualities after 24 hours.

Luminous Mark
Your marks are imbued with your own luminescence.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait; challenge, smite evil, quarry, or similar ability to mark an enemy.
Benefit: Subject of your challenge, smite evil, quarry or similar ability is outlined with pale light resembling faerie fire for one round per character level.

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

Alchemist: +1/6 of an alchemist discovery.

Barbarian: +1 feet to climb and swim speeds while raging.  In combat this option has no effect unless the barbarian has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Bard: +1/6 to the number of people that can be affected with fascinate bardic performance.

Cavalier: +1 feet to the mount's climb and swim speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the cavalier has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Cleric: +1 to healing and damage received by aberrations from the xenopi channel energy.

Druid: +1 feet to the climb and swim speeds of summoned creatures. In combat this option has no effect unless the druid has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Fighter: +1 to the fighter's CMD when resisting grapple or trip attempts.

Magus: +1 foot to reach of magus touch spells. Does not increase threatened area.

Monk: +1/2 feet to reach of unarmed strikes, rounded down to a nearest multiple of five feet.

Oracle: +1/4 to caster level of spells and spell-like abilities with water descriptor.

Ranger: +1/2 bonus to Constitution checks and saving throws when resisting high pressure, suffocation, and environmental effects caused by aquatic environment.

Rogue: +1 foot to racial climb and swim speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the rogue has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Sorcerer: +1/4 to caster level of spells and spell-like abilities with water descriptor.

Summoner: +1 foot to the eidolon's swim and climb speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the summoner has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Witch: +1 foot to the familiar's swim and climb speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the witch has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Wizard: +1 to caster level checks made to penetrate Spell Resistance of aberrations and creatures with aquatic or water subtype.


  1. Very cool, Drejk!

    Are their tentacles are too weak to act as natural weapons? Or is that perhaps something that would work as an alternate racial trait?

    1. They are as suitable for tentacle natural attack as human fist is suitable for slam natural attack - or simply speaking they act as regular unarmed strike. I decided against natural attack for them. I considered giving them a sharp octopus-like beak more than tentacle attack. It might end being additional racial feat that allows them to use bite grappled opponents.

  2. Nope.

    Ugh, another deadline added to quite tight timeline...