Sunday, July 21, 2013

Campaign Design - Race: Khülen

(adapted from the Eberron Campaign Setting)

The khülen (which is both the singular and plural of the race name) are a race of wild and untamed natural shapechangers who generally live in the uncivilized parts of the Three Worlds. Members of the khülen race cannot fully change shape, but can take on animalistic features - a state that they call shifting. The origin of the khülen race is a much debated topic. Some hold that the khülen are the result of interbreeding between humans and natural lycanthropes that continued until the khülen became a separate and distinct race. Others speculate that the khülen are the result of an alvari experiment aimed at creating a warrior race to serve in their armies - an experiment that presumably went completely awry. Others assert that the khülen are the special creation of the celestial Vali, a claim they bolster by pointing to Vali's mythic fondness for warriors who can transform into fearsome beasts. For their part, the khülen mostly ignore the debate, preferring to focus on the struggle to survive in the here and now rather than wondering how they came to be.

Personality: The personality and behavior of the khülen is influenced by their animal natures. Many are boorish and crude, while others are quiet, shy, and solitary. Most khülen see themselves as predators, and think of most activities in terms of hunting and prey. Khülen view survival as a challenge, striving to be self-reliant, adaptable, and resourceful.

Physical Description: Khülen are basically humanoid in shape, but their bodies are wiry, lithe, and strong. Their faces have a bestial cast, with wide, flat noses, large eyes, and heavy eyebrows, pointed ears, and long sideburns. Their forearms and lower legs grow long hair and the hair on their heads is thick and almost always worn long.

Relations: Many races feel uncomfortable around khülen, the same way they feel uncomfortable around any large predator. Some grow to appreciate individual khülen despite their natural aversion, and halflings in particular get along well with them, notably in wild regions like the At'viras Steppes and the Tozlu Desert. For their part, khülen are accustomed to distrust and don't expect better treatment from members of other races, although some khülen try to earn respect and companionship through acts and deeds.

Alignment: Khülen tend to be neutral, with a bent towards chaos, viewing the struggle to survive as more important than moral or ethical concerns about how survival is maintained. That said, khulen range across the entire spectrum of alignments, and one can find some khülen who are paragons of virtue, as well as a not inconsequential number of khülen who are violently destructive and cruel.

Khülen Lands: The largest and most notable region dominated by the khülen is the vast wooded area known as Hatalom, but khülen are also reasonably common in other wild and inhospitable regions such as the At'viras Steppes and the Tozlu Desert where mixed tribes of halflings, humans, and khülen wander the open spaces. Khülen are also commonly found in the regions formerly ruled by the Rhadynnic Sky Empire and the Dekkulde Islands, usually in small settlements in rural areas away from the crowded spaces of the cities. Many khülen in these areas earn their way as trappers, hunters, fishers, trackers, guides, and military scouts.

Religion: Most khülen incline towards the druid based religion that honor the Grym, believing in the divine power of nature, the elements, and the earth itself. However, many khülen follow various celestial and infernal powers, generally favoring those whose spheres of concern relate strongly to the natural world such as Syfa, Þunor, Hler, and most often Vali. And on the other side of the coin, many khülen can be found in the service of Iku-Tyrma, Surtan, Halpas, and Khil.

Language: Khülen generally speak the language of the region they live in. Khülen from Hatalom speak Hatalic. Khülen from the Tozlu Desert speak one of the many dialects of Tozlan, and khülen from Rhadynnic regions such as the Freeholds speak Rhadynnic or Sorglish.

Names: Khülen from Hatalom have Hatalic names such as Castimir, Dragutin, Grubisa, Rados, and Vjeran for males and Divina, Jasna, Luca, and Tjeha for females. Khülen from the At'viras Steppes and the Tozlu Desert, naturally enough, have names drawn from the languages common to those areas. Most khülen outside of Hatalom and the nomadic regions of the At'viras Steppes and Tozlu Desert who do not use Hatalic names have names drawn from the culture they live within, favoring typical Rhadynnic and Rodharic names.
  • Type: Khülen are humanoids with the shapechanger subtype.

  • Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma.

  • Size: Medium size.

  • Speed: Khülen have a base speed of 30 feet.

  • Shifting (Su): Once per day a khülen can enter a state that is superficially similar to a barbarian’s rage. Each khülen has one of ten khülen traits that manifest when the character is shifting. Each khülen trait provides a +2 bonus to one physical characteristic and some other advantage as well. Shifting is a free action and lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 plus the khülen’s Constitution modifier. (If a khülen trait or other effect increases the character’s Constitution modifier, use the newly improved modifier). A khülen can take feats to improve this ability. Every khülen feat a character takes increases the duration of shifting by 1 round. For every two khülen feats a character takes the number of times per day she can tap into the ability increases by one. Shifting is a natural ability and neither an affliction or a curse, and cannot be passed by claw or bite attacks or cured. The ten khülen traits are:

    • Beasthide (Su): While shifting, a beasthide khülen gains a +2 bonus to Constitution and natural armor that provides a +2 bonus to AC.

    • Dreamsight (Su): Unlike other khülen traits which increase a khülen’s physical abilities, the dreamsight trait sharpens a khülen’s instincts and awareness. While shifting, a dreamsight khülen temporarily gains a +2 bonus to Wisdom and the ability to communicate with animals as if under the effect of a speak with animals spell. In addition, the khülen gains a +2 bonus on Handle Animal and wild empathy checks even while not shifting.

    • Gorebrute (Su): While shifting, a gorebrute khülen temporarily gains a +2 bonus to Strength and manifests powerful horns that can be used as a natural weapon, but only during a charge attack. (The horns are too awkward to use as a natural weapon in any circumstance other than a charge). If a gorebrute khülen uses his horns in a charge attack, the horns function as a natural weapon, dealing 2d6 points of damage (plus an extra 1 point for every four character levels). A gorebrute khülen can’t combine a charge attack with his horns with any other attack, even if he has the ability to make more than one attack as part of a charge (such as from the pounce ability).

    • Longtooth (Su): While shifting, a longtooth khülen gains a +2 bonus to Strength and grows fangs that can be used as a natural weapon, dealing 1d6 points of damage (plus an additional +1 for every four character levels) with a successful bite attack. A khülen cannot attack more than once with their bite attack even if their base attack bonus is high enough to give multiple attacks. The khülen can use their bite attack as a secondary attack (taking a -5 penalty on their attack roll) while wielding a weapon.

    • Cliffwalk (Su): While shifting a cliffwalk khülen gains a +2 bonus to Dexterity and has a climb speed of 20 feet.

    • Razorclaw (Su): While shifting a razorclaw khülen gains a +2 bonus to Strength and grows claws that can be used as natural weapons. These claws deal 1d4 points of damage (plus an additional +1 for every four character levels) with each successful attack. They can attack with one claw as a standard action or with two claws as a full attack action (as a primary natural weapon). They cannot attack more than once with a single claw, even if their base attack bonus is high enough to give them multiple attacks. They can attack with a claw as a light off-hand weapon while wielding a weapon in their primary hand, but all their attacks in that round take a -2 penalty.

    • Swiftwing (Su): While shifting, a swiftwing khülen temporarily gains a +2 bonus to Dexterity and their arms grow leathery flaps of skin (similar to a bat’s wings) which grant a fly speed of 20 feet (average maneuverability). While airborne, the khülen can’t use use his hands for anything other than flying, although he can still hold or carry objects. A khülen can’t fly while carrying a medium or heavy load or while wearing medium or heavy armor.

    • Truedive (Su): While shifting, a truedive khülen temporarily gains a +2 bonus to Constitution and a swim speed of 30 feet. Gaining a swim speed grants him a +8 racial bonus on Swim checks. In addition, the khülen can hold his breath for a number of rounds equal to 5 times their Constitution score before they risk drowning. A truedive khülen gains this last benefit even while not shifting.

    • Longstride (Su): While shifting, a longstride khülen gains a +2 bonus to Dexterity and a bonus of +10 feet to their base land speed.

    • Wildhunt (Su): While shifting a wildhunt khülen gains a +2 bonus to Constitution and the scent ability. A wildhunt khülen can detect creatures within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the creature is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench can be detected at triple normal range. These stronger scents block other scents, so they can sometimes be used to confuse or hamper this khülen trait. When a wildhunt khülen detects a scent, the exact location of the source isn’t revealed – only its presence somewhere within range. The khülen can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. Whenever the khülen comes within 5 feet of the source, he pinpoints the source’s location. While shifting, a wildhunt khülen who has the Track feat can follow tracks by smell, making Survival checks to find or follow a trail. The typical DC for a fresh tail if 10 (regardless of the surface that holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures producing the odor, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail grows cold the DC increases by 2. This ability otherwise follows the rules for the Track feat. Khülen tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility. When not shifting, a wildhunt khülen gains a +2 bonus on Survival checks due to the lingering effects of the scent ability.

  • Beast Vision: Khülen gain low-light vision. A khülen can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

  • Nature's Strength: Khülen gain a +2 racial bonus on Balance, Climb, and Jump checks. A khülen's animalistic heritage enhances many of his physical skills.

  • Lycanthrope-Blooded: The blood of lycanthropes flows through the veins of every khülen. They are treated as lycanthropes for the purpose of race-restricted spells, feats, magic items and anything else that only works for those with lycanthrope blood. In addition, khülen may choose to become Outdoorsmen if they desire to do so.

  • Automatic Languages: Ahaliat, Eurozic, Sorglish, or Tozlan.

  • Favored Class: Barbarian.

  • Favored Class: Warrior.

  • Exclusive Class: Spirit Shaman (from Complete Divine).

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Campaign Design - Race: Alvari

(adapted from Mystic Races)

Touched at birth by the mysteries of the arcane, the alvari quite literally have magic in their blood. They are most well known for their natural talents in the mystic arts and a streak of insanity that seems to accompany their affinity for magic. Mercurial, somewhat reclusive, and often a bit monomaniacal they rarely interact with others except when pursuing some obsessive arcane pursuit that has drawn them into the outside world. And usually it seems to be a bizarre and strange arcane idea that only someone who was insane would pursue relentlessly, leading to the popular belief that the alvari are a race of mystical madmen.

The alvari are born to magic, and their affinity shows itself in their very skin, hair, and eyes. The alvari all display an affinity for the mystic arts, but each alvari is especially attuned to a particular school of magic and is most comfortable and skilled when dealing with that particular kind of magic. There is one exception: Alvari seem to display almost no talent for necromancy, and there are no known alvari from this birth school. These magical affinities run in families of alvari, so an alvari with an affinity for conjuration is likely to have had parents who were conjuration oriented as well. In the past, some groups of alvari experimented with mixing bloodlines in an attempt to create more broadly skilled alvari children, so this rule of thumb is not always true. Once in a while, and alvari oriented towards one school will be born to a family that is mostly composed of members of another school.

Personality: The alvari are mysterious and obsessive, often following their chosen arcane pursuits with a single-minded determination that causes them to ignore all other concerns. Most alvari are naturally curious when it comes to a new field of magical inquiry, but they tend to favor their birth schools above all others. Given that so many of their arcane studies are either incredibly obscure or simply inscrutable, this makes the actions of many alvari seem incomprehensible and in some cases, thoughtless or even cruel. This tendency to capriciousness is offset in large part by the fact that so many alvari are naturally charismatic and persuasive, a trait that feeds into one of the other dominant traits the race is known for: megalomania. This second fact is likely the root cause of the brutally vicious nature of internal alvari politics.

Physical Description: Alvari are generally tall and thin, almost spindly, with long and thin fingers and toes. They average between six and six and a half feet tall, and generally weigh between 125 and 190 pounds. In general form, they look like tall, spindly humans, but they have pale skin that is tinged the color associated with their birth school. Not only that, alvari hair and eyes display the color of their birth school in brilliant hues, revealing their affinity to anyone they meet. Most alvari wear their hair long, and many wear it in elaborate styles. Alvari rarely have facial hair of any kind. The colors associated with each school are:
  • Abjuration: Silver. Abjuration oriented alvari typically have silver-white hair, and a slight silver sheen to their skin. Their eyes glow with a silver light that can have a powerful effect on others.
  • Conjuration: Purple. Members of the conjuration school have soft, subdued shades of purple skin, and usually have deep purple hair and striking violet eyes.
  • Divination: White. Members of the divination school have pale white skin and pure white hair, leading some to confuse them with members of the abjuration school at first. However, alvari of the divination school have pure white eyes, distinguishing them from their silver irised abjuration cousins.
  • Enchantment: Gold. Many alvari of this school have stunning gold threaded hair. Alvari of other birth schools are frequently jealous of the enchanter's gold hued skin and deep golden eyes.
  • Evocation: Red. With red tinged skin, fiery red hair, and deep, crimson eyes, the alvari of the evocation school often favor combat over discussion, preferring direct action to intrigue.
  • Illusion: Gray. Alvari of the illusion school usually have dull gray skin, black and grey streaked hair, and dark grey eyes.
  • Transmutation: Green. With pale green skin, deep green hair, and emerald eyes, the children of transmutation are mistaken by some to be allied with the green forests.

Relations: Because of their reclusive nature, alvari have limited relations with outsiders, usually preferring to interact using trusted intermediaries. This preference explains the alvari's meddling with the development of both the gnome and changeling races, and members of both races can often be found serving in the retinues of alvari patrons. The alvari relationship with these races is multifacested however, with some gnomes and changelings embracing their role as allies of the alvari, and others resenting the alvari manipulations in their heritage. Given the status that ironborn have among the Collegium as the ultimate servitors, many speculate that the alvari had a hand in influencing the Blue Mages to create them. Alvari are generally indifferent towards dwarves and khülen, but tend to regard humans and halflings with some affection.

Alignment: Alvari are generally self-absorbed, headstrong, obstinate, and independent with a strong streak of monomania and paranoia. Consequently, most alvari are chaotic in nature, acknowledging little authority and pursuing their own goals regardless of those around them.

Alvari Lands: Most alvari live in the Pilosian City-States, caught up in the swirling and chaotic internecine political warfare that flourishes there. Those who have left the alvari homelands tend to congregate near centers of magical power or learning, and some can be found wandering the Three Worlds in search of obscure arcane lore. A surprising number of alvari have joined Collegium are alvari, which is surprising considering the rather strict and ascetic lifestyle expected of members.

Religion: Most alvari regard Yng as the patron of their race and pay him at least lip service level homage, but many also acknowledge Woda and Füllar due to those Celestials' close association with magical prowess. Those alvari who turn to evil frequently pay homage to Ishi as their patron.

Language: Alvari speak Quolin as their native language and most learn another language for dealing with outsiders, usually Enslaic, Rhadynnic, or Sorglish. A substantial number of alvari learn Sûlic in the pursuit of their magical studies.

Names: Alvari almost all have Quolin names, with a first name usually accompanied by a surname related to their birth school or city or origin. Examples include Aidas, Audra, Aušrinė, Aušra, Daiva, Eglė, Gražina, Krėvė, Lina, Linas, Neris, Rasa, Šarūnas, Saulė, Ūla, Vėjas, Vilija, Vincas, Vydūnas, and Živilė.
  • Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution.
  • Size: Medium size.
  • Movement: Alvari have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Arcane Birth School: The player of an alvar character must choose a birth school during character creation. Alvari cannot choose Necromancy as their birth school. The character is literally infused with the power of this school and receives the following benefits:
    • School Insight: +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft checks for tasks involving magic from the birth school. The character receives this bonus when they attempt to learn a new spell from the birth school.
    • School Resistance: +2 racial bonus on saving throws to resist spells from their birth school.
    • School Spell Power: When an alvar casts a spell from their birth school, the saving throw DC to resist the spell is increased by 1.
    • Tapping the Power (Sp): The alvari are a race born into magic. A 1st level alvar can choose one 0-level spell from their birth school as a spell-like ability. At 4th level and at every four levels after that, an alvar may choose a 0-level or 1st level spell from their birth school as an additional spell-like ability. An alvar cannot have more 1st-level spell-like abilities than 0-level spell-like abilities. An alvar with a Charisma score of at least 10 can use 0-level spell-like abilities. An alvar with a Charisma score of at least 11 can also use 1st-level spell-like abilities from their birth school. Each of these spell-like abilities is usable once per day. Caster level for these abilities is equal to the alvar’s character level; save DC 10 + alvar’s Charisma modifier + spell level.
  • Final Utterance (Ex): When an alvar dies, their body releases the stored magic within it. For 1 round per Hit Die of the alvar, anyone within earshot hears ululating alvari syllables - usually gibberish, but occasionally a prophetic phrase of a final curse on the alvar's enemies. The alvar's body need not remain intact for the final utterance to occur. Even if an alvar succumbs to a disintegrate spell, their disembodied voice still utters strange gibberish for several rounds.
  • Necromantic Aversion (Ex): Alvari have a racial aversion to necromancy. Those alvari who choose to become specialist wizards cannot specialize in the necromancy school. When attempting to cast a spell from the necromancy school, an alvari must make a Will save (DC 10 + spell's level) to do so successfully.
  • Languages: Quolin and either Enslaic, Rhadynnic, or Sorglish.
  • Favored class: Sorcerer.
  • Favored class: Aristocrat.
  • Exclusive class: Duskblade (from the Player's Handbook II).
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