Sunday, August 20, 2017

Campaign Design - Race: Käälapsi

(adapted from Champions of Ruin)

The käälapsi are the snake-blooded favored servants of the yuan-ti nobility of the Polthian Swamp. Over the centuries since they first appeared, the käälapsi have gone beyond the great swamp to set up operations all across the Three Worlds. They operate from the sewers and the shadows, hatching schemes to increase the power of serpent-kind and finding victims on which to perform vile grafting and breeding experiments.

Käälapsi make excellent rogues, because they are known for their guile and wicked ability to strike from the shadows. Others sometimes try to enlist käälapsi into their organizations because of their skills as crime bosses, interrogators, and information brokers. Still, most käälapsi have proven exceedingly loyal to the serpent-nations of Polthia.

Personality: Käälapsi are scheming, cruel beings who will stop at nothing to further the goals of their yuan-ti masters. They enjoy experiments on "lesser beings" in their quest to find new and better creatures. They value flesh above all other forms of currency, leading them to often deal in slaves. Käälapsi who take root outside of the Polthian Swamp are famously patient, sometimes lying low for months if their lair or plans are in danger of being discovered. One of these snake-blooded villains would rather talk his way out of a situation than fight, especially if doing so gives his companions time to flank his enemies.

Physical Description: Käälapsi typically stand between 5 feet and 6½ feet tall, but because they are extremely skinny, they often appear taller than they actually are. Those who possess the very long serpent-arm graft so commonly found among the scaled-kind of the Polthian Swamp appear to have more girth than normal, because they keep their arms wound around their torsos and their necks hidden undreneath expansive robes. Käälapsi weigh less than humans of equal size - usually between 100 and 180 pounds - because their bones are less dense then that of a human. A käälapsi has pale skin with either a yellow or green tinge, and often has brown spots in clusters near their neck and lower back. They usually wear light clothing unless they are concealing long serpent-arms or other grafts that would give away their true nature. Käälapsi usually live to between 60 and 80 years of age.

Relations: Despite their strange appearance, hidden lairs, and evil goals, käälapsi are social creatures. They prefer to work with small, reptilian beings such as kobolds when they need minions, and nagas or young dragons when they are looking for a more serious partner. The käälapsi have many of the same prejudices as their yuan-ti masters towards these creatures, considering themselves above all other creatures. The yuan-ti, for their part, regard käälapsi as inferior beings, suitable only as servants, and would never work for one or treat one as an equal.

Käälapsi rarely associate with the people of the community they are in, as they see them as either food or living subjects for experiments. They have no favored targets - they see all other beings as fit subjects for their grafting and breeding programs. A käälapsi needing an outside contact might deign to work with a member of a lesser race, but will rarely reveal his true nature to his contact, and such arrangements are often short-lived thanks to kaalapsian paranoia and desire to work in privacy.

Alignment: Käälapsi are evil to the core, although some among them favor a more balance and neutral approach to their experiments. The need for living test subjects and the incredible pain their captives suffer through makes avoiding the call of evil very difficult for all käälapsi save for the most strong-willed.

Käälapsi Lands: The käälapsi are the result of either interbreeding between Polthian yuan-ti and humans, or possibly created by experiments conducted by those serpent people upon humans. To this day, they are mostly concentrated in that region. Other käälapsi have moved to cities across the Three Worlds in order to experiment and spy, awaiting the day when the yuan-ti empire will stretch across the Three Worlds.

Religion: Virtually all käälapsi worship Belial as the father of the scaled host or Seþra as the mother of serpents. A much smaller number pledge themselves to the service of Ishii and they are found even more rarely with Vaßatar or Gangyn as their patron.

Language: Almost all käälapsi speak Kansattish and many have at least a working knowledge of Jeblic, Karstish, or Sûlic to aid in dealing with local humanoids and operatives they have taken on as servants. Those who travel often learn Sorglish, Enslaic, Gorovlic, or Rhadynnic as well to help maintain any cover identity they have adopted.

Names: Käälapsi usually have typical Polthian names such as Anneli, Sanna, Kauko, Aatami, Eevi, or Kaapo.
  • Type: Humanoid.

  • Ability Scores: -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity. Käälapsi are agile, but not as strong as other humanoids their size.

  • Size: Medium size.

  • Speed: Käälapsi base speed is 30 feet.

  • Low-light Vision: Käälapsi can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

  • Snake-Blooded: For all effects related to race, a Käälapsi is considered a yuan-ti. Käälapsi, for example, are just as vulnerable to special effects that affect only yuan-ti as their yuan-ti masters are, and they can use magic items that are only usable by yuan-ti.

  • +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against poison. Käälapsi do not easily succumb to venom of any kind.

  • +4 racial bonus on Swim checks. Käälapsi are comfortable in the water and their light frames makes it easier for them to stay afloat.

  • +2 racial bonus on Escape Artist checks. Käälapsi can wriggle their way out of sticky situations.

  • Spell-Like Abilities: At will - speak with animals (snakes only); Three times per day - charm animal (snakes only). Käälapsi often fill their lairs with poisonous snakes to discourage interlopers.

  • Automatic Languages: Kansattish or Sûlic.

  • Favored Class: Rogue.

  • Favored Class: Expert.

  • Exclusive Class: Beguiler (from the Player's Handbook II).

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Campaign Design - Race: Cien-Kranula

(adapted from Champions of Ruin)

The cien-kranula are humans whose have become infused with the very essence of shadow. Some are the result of their ancestors interbreeding with shadow demons and other creatures of shadow, while others had forebears who were affected by powerful shadow magic. They are a rare and secretive people, and little is known about them. Some try to blend in with civilization, learning the skills needed to disguise their origin, while others live on the outskirts of society, taking up lives on the fringes, while still others form tight-knit hidden communities of their fellows.

Personality: Cien-kranula are hard-working and purpose driven, seemingly almost always working towards some goal unknown to outsiders. They are often seen as dour and humorless by members of other races, almost always seeming to be engaged in rigorous activity, even if that activity is merely training themselves to be better prepared for more fruitful tasks. When they do set aside their work, the cien-kranula attack their leisure activities with the same dedication and single-mindedness.

Physical Description: Cien-kranula look like ordinary, somewhat slender humans with very pale, almost white skin that has ever shifting shades of grey shadows running on its surface. They all have black or dark grey hair, and their eyes are entirely black, with no whites at all.

Relations: The cien-kranula view other races with suspicion, and most other races return the favor. If they overcome this mutual animosity, the cien-kranula have been known to work with other races in pursuit of their goals, most commonly chitine, kell, and euroz.

Alignment: The cien-kranula show a marked tendency towards chaos despite their single-minded nature. They also tend to favor evil, although some have shown the capacity to break out of this mold, and once in a great while one can be found with a bent towards goodness.

Cien-Kranular Lands: There are no cien-kranular lands. The cien-kranular are few in numbers to have a land of their own and instead live in and around the nations dominated by other races.

Religion: The cien-kranula have no common racial deity, although for obvious reasons they tend to gravitate towards honoring Gangyn. Though rarer, cien-kranula devoted to Halpas, Kivutar, Sirchade, and Vaßatar have also been known to exist. The member of this race who eschew the racial tendency towards evil most often devote themselves to Vali and more rarely Þunor.

Language: Cien-kranula all speak Umbran, no matter where they were born. They also speak whatever language is commonly spoken in their native region.

Names: Cien-kranula have two names. One is their Umbran name, which they do not use with outsiders, and the other is their use-name, usually a common name from the region the cien-kranula is from. Because their use-name is of little importance to them, many cien-kranula change their use-name if they relocate to another region so their use-name matches the local naming conventions.
  • Type: Humanoid.

  • Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma.

  • Size: Medium size.

  • Speed: Cien-kranular base speed is 30 feet.

  • Shadow's Sight: Cien-kranula have darkvision with a range of 60 feet.

  • Shadow Mind: +1 racial bonus on all Will saves. Cien-kranula have alien minds touched by shadowstuff that make them resistant to mind-altering effects

  • Shadow Resistance: +1 bonus on all saving throws against spells and spell-like effects that have the shadow descriptor. This stacks with their racial bonuses on Will saves and their racial bonus on saves against fear.

  • Shadow Blend: +2 racial bonus on Hide checks in shadowy environments.

  • Fearless: +4 racial bonus on all saves against fear. As beings infused with shadowstuff, cien-kranula are born out of fear and malice.

  • Unshakeable: Cien-kranula cannot become shaken and they ignore the effects of the shaken condition. They can still become frightened or panicked, though in most cases their innate resistance to fear keeps them from it.

  • Automatic Languages: Umbran plus one other language.

  • Favored Class: Fighter.

  • Favored Class: Adept.

  • Exclusive Class: Shadowsworn (adapted from The Book of Roguish Luck).

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