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, which triggers 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 an average kyo. Their love of flight also drove them to develop flying skyships which 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.