[Whiteleaf] Races

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[Whiteleaf] Races

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:39 am

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Humans

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:39 am

Overall the most populous sentient race known to exist on Whiteleaf, the "Mayfly Folk" claim a broad strip of the continent running between the Old Kingdoms of the southeast, where the elves and dwarves still hold sway and defend against the orcish marauders, and the Wilderlands to the north and west where few civilized creatures survive amidst the marauding of dragons and giants. Most of these lands are held by the Empire, whose skill at rebuffing invasions from both sides at once borders on legendary; since it arose 1500 years ago, unifying most human nations around a common language and a culture founded in respecting diversity, the Federated Imperium of the Angelic Saxon Tradespeak has continued an aggressive yet peaceful campaign to bring every human enclave under the authority of its seemingly nigh-omniscient Emperor. Naturally some outliers remain, from Northern barbarian kingdoms to conservative or radical states, and the Empire is content to leave them be for now, its emissaries offering any aid the other powers will accept while its spokespersons display a smug confidence that "the benefits of allegiance will be irresistable in the fullness of time".

If there is one thing that humans are famous for among the other races, even more than their innovative and competitive nature and the tumultuous eventfulness of their short lives, it is their spectacular fecundity; while not as quick to breed in sheer numbers as the goblins, kobolds or chicklets, humans are possessed of a rabbitlike eagerness to spawn while also guarding their infants as jealously as bears or elves, suffering not a single lost babe without rousing fearsome retribution against the architect of its demise. More than any other factor, this willingness to mass-produce children yet treat them as precious has ensured humanity's dominance of Whiteleaf - or, as a few of its more bitter rivals put it, made them a plague upon the land. The Good found communities which pull together at the first sign of crisis to guard the helpless young against even minor threats, while the Evil rely on a reputation for spectacular viciousness to discourage even the slightest hint of ill intention toward their treasured offspring (though this alignment corresponds to a more intolerant attitude toward youngsters who are slow to stand on their own, still not matching the callousness of most savage races but well exceeding even the most cruel dwarf or drow's willingness to abandon a weakling child). The Lawful engender systems which ensure the efficient protection and advancement of younglings, often placing heavy restrictions upon the competent individual in order to ensure the welfare of any scions they sire, whether it was intentional or not; the Chaotic by contrast tend to favor a "sink or swim" approach where families overwhelmingly pressure their descendants to stay close and cleave to their blood, seeking to build power blocs through sheer quantity which can turn a lineage into an unstoppable juggernaut. All four methods, and the True Neutral compromise among them, have proven highly effective at ensuring that each new "crop" of humans is close to double the numbers of its predecessor...while other species with more raw progenerative power are studies in infant mortality, which seldom manage more than a decade of steady growth before cannibalizing themselves (or erupting into violence against their neighbors - often humans, notably - and then being nigh-exterminated in the counterattack).

And as an inevitable corollary to their reproductive prowess, humans are obsessed with sexuality to an extent no other race this side of the Pit can match, the males in particular. Even the drow cannot measure up to the carnality that flourishes in seedy districts of human towns, and it is almost certainly no accident that nearly every other species has produced hybrids with humanity, while virtually never breeding amongst each other. The broad range of human tastes ensure that everything from a wood sprite to a hulking ogress looks desireable to someone, and many humans seem compulsively attracted to the exotic in particular, caring less what manner of being their paramour is exactly than whether they've had one of the type before. Descendants of these offsprings come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and colors; an entire nation known as the Quatrinate Hegemony has arisen as a sanctuary for these debatably-still-human misfits, many of which can point to a spectacularly far-ranging origin such as the union of a human with a being of the Outer Planes. Other mutants such as half-dragons, half-fey, half-beasts, half-giants, half-oozes and even half-undead are also to be found throughout Whiteleaf, again nearly exclusive to humanity (though the dragons give mankind a run for his money now and again, and have one advantage in that both of their genders play this game with equal fervor); more than one crude observer among the dwarves, halflings, hobgoblins and so forth has pointed out that there seem to be very few things in the world that humans haven't tried to mate with, and successes are far from rare in such efforts. (Not that the attraction is entirely one-sided; humans are only sometimes the aggressor in interspecies relationship, as they seem to often prove just as irresistable to atypical examples of other races as those races are to atypical humans.)

Mechanics
Humans are playable as written in the book, although Whiteleaf's specimens are slightly healthier than modern Earth humanity (and much healthier than medieval Europe's denizens), due to an intensive campaign of magical healing and environmental enrichment conducted throughout the Empire, and spread as far beyond its borders as neighboring states will permit. Clerics and gleaners are to be found in nearly every community, working to ensure that the land and its people flourish; whether all this is a jealous defiance of the short human lifespan compared to every other race, or just a hedonic desire to make their brief mortality as comfortable as possible before moving on to an uncertain fate in the Outer Planes, either way Whiteleaf's humans have gone to great lengths to banish the miseries of nature from their rustic existence. This has no game-mechanical effect, but in general creates a positive general mood throughout the Empire and its neighbor states that is a far cry from the grimness of a typical medieval setting.
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ELVES

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:39 am

Ancient enough to remember when the Empire was half its current size, the elders of the Elven race (formally termed the elensetharsai) are not impressed by humanity's current prominence - a little alarmed, subconsciously, but not moved to make any sign of concern. The elves are a far from perfect people, in spite of the calculated air of refinement they seek to project; outsiders believe alternately that they are either in close communion with nature or slightly out of touch with reality, but the truth is really neither - and a little of both. It's not clear exactly what the connection is between the mortal elves and the distinctly similar-appearing but timeless Fair Folk, who emerge from their preternatural paradise of Arcadia at the most rarefied heights of the Outer Planes; certainly one exists, but whether it is patronage or parentage or something else altogether, no-one is sure...least of all the elves themselves, for they claim to see no point to the question.

No fewer than twelve distinct elven subraces exist throughout Whiteleaf, with their power strongest in their ancestral lands almost due east of the Empire's northern provinces, but their numbers spread far and wide across the continent. There are few activities an elf hasn't performed, and few places where he or she hasn't performed it; a boundlessly cheerful race, despite their talent at suppressing all outward sign of their elation, the elves are forever seeking new experiences to integrate into their worldview, and this is in fact the root of their racial divergence. The category of nomadic adventurers sometimes termed "horizon walkers" were originally all elves - a few dwarves have taken the practice up in the modern age, but before humanity's appearance this would have been unthinkable, and even now humans pursue these arts no more frequently than elves, despite their superior numbers and apparently far greater venturesomeness as a species. As usual, the elves prefer a slightly deceiving appearance in these matters; they have adventurous souls as well, and only slightly less impetuosity despite their far greater luxury of time, but above all they continue to prize their air of refinement, and are loath indeed to be seen displaying the intensity with which they actually feel. Though most other folk would assume an elf berserker to be a contradiction in terms, the race is possessed of a core of mercurial intensity that would paralyze even an orc with terror, if the elves did not take such painstaking care to avoid displaying more than a tiny fraction of their ferocity (even when in the grip of a barbarian's rage, and few indeed are the elven breeds that would ever willingly take barbarian levels in the first place).

As stated before, the elves prize their attentiveness to their surroundings above nearly all other attributes, saving perhaps their dignity and self-control; it is for this reason that so many strains of the elven species have diverged from their original form (which nearly every such subrace claims was their own). The elves revere nature greatly (or at least they claim to, though the druids of other races often claim that they have an idealized picture of the wilderness which doesn't map to reality as well as they think), luxuriating in its beauty and tending to its harmony, with what a human would regard as aching precision and mind-numbing patience. They gladly spend entire days fussing over a small patch of ground or communing intimately with a wild animal, and this dedication is quick to show in the results they achieve; none can deny that their cities are marvels of green architecture, and they devote the same attention to gardening that they do to all other crafts. But they do not simply sculpt the land to their wishes; they are also sculpted by it, slightly, over the course of centuries, never noticing it as it happens and not recognizing it if it's pointed out, as if it were too obvious to bother acknowledging. An elf who lives in a forest (many, but by no means all, do so) grows more sylvan in aspect as the years roll by; one who dwells atop a mountain adopts a stony impassiveness to his demeanor. The changes are slight and subtle, but unmistakable in their cumulative effect; though all the resulting subraces remain viable to breed amongst each other, their distinctions are clearly obvious until submerged in a mingling of the blood. Ancient texts mention the existence of still other elven heritages which are no longer known, and it remains unclear whether the current races known to be younger arose to fill a vacated niche, or were simply formed anew in untapped lands, at about the same time an older race was beginning to fail in ones that even they had finally managed to exhaust.

Whiteleaf has at least twelve known subraces of the Elves (who call themselves Tharsai), counting the Drow, who are not discussed much in this post, given how radically divergent their culture is. Of the other eleven major civilizations, three are touched by Evil to lesser or greater extents, four are equally likely to be Good or Evil, and four are fairly strongly affiliated with the force of Good. A similar gradient governs the intensity of their inherent magic; most races are no more inherently mystical than humans, but the Drow and several other radically divergent strains have innate magical abilities (and correspondingly a Level Adjustment), and a few are somewhere in between. In all cases, the formation of a subrace seems to be due to a rapid adaptation to assimilate into a living environment; while they are strongly individualistic, nearly all elves inherently cleave to Nature as it presents in their surroundings.

Mechanics
The twelve known elven races include those described in the Monster Manual as well as several others that are unique to Whiteleaf. Four others are presented as speculative options, which may or may not exist, and certainly not in great numbers (possibly excepting the desert elves, who could replace drow in a count of the 12 "main" races). Here are all sixteen branches of the elven family tree, in brief. Stats of each breed are listed in short form; language options and racial weapon proficiencies are not addressed by this article.

Recognized
* High Elves (good, +0 LA, Dex +2, Con -2): The default subrace.
* Sun Elves (neutral, +0 LA, Int +2, Con -2): Reclusive and elitist.
* Wood Elves (good-ish, +0 LA, Str +2, Dex +2, Con -2, Int -2): Very reclusive and distrustful of magic; favor ranger.
* Wild Elves (neutral-ish, +0 LA, Cha or Dex +2, Int -2): Barbaric and fey-touched; favor sorcerer.
* Coral Elves (good-ish, +1 LA, Str +2, Int -2): Cannot breathe air. Favor fighter.
* Gray Elves (evil-ish, +0 LA, Str -2, Dex +2, Con -2, Int +2): Even shyer cousins of the Sun Elves.
* Dun Elves (good, +0 LA, Wis +2, Con -2): Dark-skinned salt-of-the-earth types.
* Ice Elves (evil-ish, +0 LA, -2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Int): Fragile perfectionists who can't stand to warm up.
* Blood Elves (evil, +0 LA, +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Wis, -2 Cha): Vengeful, hypocritical rage addicts; favor spellblade (duskblade).
* Sky Elves (good, +0 LA, -2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Cha): Not what you'd call "grounded". Favor scout.
* Ghost Elves (neutral-ish, +0 LA, +2 Dex, -2 Cha): Weird spiritualists, nomadic but very private. Favor incarnate.
* Drow (evil, +2 LA, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Int, +2 Cha): Underground-dwelling psychopaths, mostly. Females favor cleric.

Controversial
* Peak Elves (evil-ish, +2 LA, Str -2, Dex +2, Int +2, Cha +2): Quasi-phrenic version of gray elves. Favor psion.
* Star Elves (neutral-ish, +1 LA, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Cha): Not-so-withdrawn version of Ghost Elves. Favor binder.
* Desert Elves (neutral, +0 LA, -2 Str, +2 Dex): Rumored to exist. And to favor swordsage. Possibly extinct or mythical.
* Flame Elves (good-ish, 0 LA, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Int, -2 Cha, darkvision instead of LLV): May or may not survive.

Former Races
* Flame Elves (became Blood Elves)
* Night Elves (became Drow)
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Dwarves

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:39 am

The Tradespeak Empire, and the few other human nations which border on their lands, maintain a coolly friendly relationship with the ancient and largely subterranean kingdoms of the Dwaormairil, who have eventually stopped quarreling with the gangly, short-lived creatures' habit of referring to them as "dwarves" (it's more polite than the Elven term, after all). Though open hostilities have never occurred on more than a localized scale even in the worst of times, most dwarves don't entirely like humans and most humans don't especially respect dwarves, and this goes double for the attitudes of the Empire, whose status as the only one of the great human nations with a border on dwarven lands grants them a less-than-appreciated dominance in the older race's dealings with humanity.

Dwarves are generally (and stereotypically, it being a mostly accurate one) stolid, ultraconservative folk with a nigh-obsessive attention to detail, and virtually zero tolerance for anything they regard as "gravel" (they have too much respect for fertilizer to disparage the Gift of the Bull, and so their equivalent substance is the pulverized, poor-quality rock that "only humans" would simply spread on the ground and call it a road or garden or the like). The mercurial attitudes of humans annoy them in the first place, and the progressive mindset that flourishes in the Empire especially comes across as sheer lunacy in their worldview; the overwhelming impression dwarves tend to have is that humans are an irresponsible and dangerously impetuous child-race, to be tolerated at best but never trusted, nor given any but the faintest and most hard-earned of praise.

A number of ignorant misconceptions and superstitions about the seldom-seen "underfolk" help to keep the two races from being more than minimally civil to each other; more than one dwarf has met a community of villagers who was certain that dwarven women at least have beards, if not look physically identical to males, or that there simply are no female dwarves and the race reproduces by carving new sons out of stone or something. The typical dwarf faced with this attitude barely restrains the impulse to facepalm, if she's polite enough to bother ("she" because female dwarves are marginally more likely to wander about on the surface than males, despite typically having stronger social ties; this only makes the persistence of the bearded, burly, or nonexistent dwarfette even more unjustifiable and irritating).

The Emperor himself is known to have visited only four of the fifteen major clanholds of the Dwaormairl, and was declared persona non grata in one of them afterward. Of the remaining eleven, only two have ever formally invited the Emperor to a visit which he did not perform - one due to other pressing engagements, the other to the discovery that it not only still had a law on the books declaring the clan's females to be property of their husbands and fathers, but was unlike the other two (who technically uphold such laws) in that it actually enforced the law. Rumor holds that the emperor only refrained from a declaration of war, in this case, after being forced to admit that the clan in question made "indisputably the best ginger beer in the known multiverse", and was better not antagonized for the sake of the Imperial Army's morale.

The dwarven "kingdom" (more properly a loose alliance of semi-dynastic constitutional republics, with the "king" generally acting more as chairperson than outright ruler) sprawls 90% underground, covering about six times as much surface area below the mountains as above, with nearly half of this surplus lying below Empire soil (the provinces involved naturally maintain strict ordinances regarding unlicensed excavation). Much of the Drow-controlled section of the Underdark opens onto dwarf-controlled tunnels which eventually reach the surface, with most of the direct approaches from Drow territory to the Empire having been sealed during a period of open warfare between the two. Consequently, the dwarves are left acting as a sort of buffer zone between the Empire and one of its more pernicious enemies, a position whose tenuousness grates on more than a few nerves. The diplomatic dance necessary to keep the two powers on friendly terms has been nothing if not a boon to the gnome and halfling economies.

See also this list of the sixteen great dwarf clans.
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Gnomes

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:40 am

Gnomes

It is generally accepted, based on persuasive geneological evidence, that the Gnome race is the offshoot of a series of historical cross-breedings between the Elf and Dwarf species, with the proto-Gnomes originally being identifiably still members of one parent species, but eventually evolving into their own distinct bloodline. They have remained thusly distinct for longer than humans have existed (though, as is typical of both progenitor races, they paid too little attention to early humanity to be of much help in clearing up the mystery of that race's origin). Gnomes who hove most closely to their dwarven ancestry are known as Rock Gnomes, and those who favor elven traits more are spoken of as Wood Gnomes, but the majority of gnomekind belongs to the racial mainstream and lacks a particular sobriquet. With typical witticism, the gnomes refer to their homelands (originally simply a boundary zone, unwanted by either of the ancient empires, in which the hybrids settled and which was eventually formally ceded to their custody) as the Gnomelands....no one has yet managed to get them to divulge what the area was called before the Common tongue existed, making this particular pun possible.

Historically, many legends of both the dwarves and the elves speak of both races as having originally been mono-gendered, although it varies which is said to be which; the dwarf beard is so archetypal that early elven ambassadors were said to be surprised that female dwarves existed, whereas elven physiognomy is so nearly androgynous that the first dwarf emissaries may have had trouble telling the difference, and assumed them all female simply to satisfy themselves as to the source of any disturbing feelings of affinity toward them. Then again, many of these ancestral tales originate with human storytellers, so they may simply be projections of that race's long-standing tendency toward biased gender politics. But those who are most interested in learning the truth of such matters would likely do well to talk to the gnomes; dwarven records of course share a dwarf-centric bias and the same is true on the elf side, so gnomes who identified no more strongly with one race than with the other are most likely to have reported the matter objectively. It is perhaps telling, then, that the early gnome myths often focused strongly on the masculine prowess of elven warriors, and the traditionally feminine caregiving qualities of the dwarves. Whether these tales are meant to reveal the truth, or are an intentionally paradoxical exagerration of the truth's opposite, remains unclear to non-gnomes, and the gnomes of course prefer to keep it that way.
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HALFLINGS (or Hobbits as they are frequently called)

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:40 am

It is difficult to define exactly how the halflings differ from humanity, except in the obvious distinction of size. Several proponents of the ill-respected science of anatomy (which is largely though of as an unnecessary and ghoulish practice, but which a significant number of experts uphold as a necessary method of treating injuries and illness when magic is unavailable) claim that the human body could not function if reduced to halfling size, and eagerly wish for examples of the small race to study; the halflings have shown little inclination to assist them.

Gnomes are magical creatures, slightly taller than halflings but proportioned exactly the same as humans; they couldn't possibly function if not for the magic in their veins. Halflings, on the other hand, are basically just short humans with a slightly exotic bloodline. Their short spine contains the same number of vertebrae and lumbar discs as a human's; interestingly, this means that a pregnant hobbette grows taller as much as wider (typically confining her to her bedchamber unless she wants to crawl on all fours through the hobbit-hole). Death in childbirth is absurdly common among halflings who don't have clerical support, which is part of why their mother-goddess is so revered (few deities have a more vigorously devoted flock). Multiple births are unheard-of; in communities without the church, women are indoctrinated to prize their fecundity and to churn out as many daughters as possible, hoping they will share their mother's resilience.

GAME MECHANICS

Ignore the racial ability of "+1 to saving throws" listed in the Players' Handbook. All halflings receive a bonus feat at first level. Many use it to take the following feat:

LIGHTFOOT {Racial, Inherent}
Prerequisite: Halfling, 1st level only.
The archetypal are nimble, stout-hearted, quick of wit, and blessed with favorable fortune which helps you to survive in a scrape. You share those qualities and are especially adept at escaping harm.
Effect: You receive a +1 bonus on all saving throws.

(As a reminder, the Inherent tag indicates that this feat, once selected, can never be "traded in" for other feats.)
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HEIVOLK (Whiteleaf's replacement for Aasimars)

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:41 am

Heivolk

Like the Tieflings, the Heivolk were originally best-known in the once-unchallengeable kingdom of Libruvuhr (now one of the larger and more culturally-distinct Empire provinces), where they acquired a name in the local language which gradually mutated into a Common word. Though both planetouched races usually resulted from the visitation of extraplanar beings upon Terrestrial women, the chauvinistic local culture identified the Heivolk's celestial parents with the human males whom they substituted for, by laying with consenting, virtuous females to create blessed offspring, while the neglected women whose plain looks, slovenly lifestyle, or brash demeanors prevented them from getting a man (at least according to their gossipy neighbors) were often blamed for having attracted an Infernal paramour to father their Tiefling bastards, one whose casual deception or cruelty was thought a fitting punishment for their own failings. It is difficult to tell whether the resulting tendency for Tieflings to either abandon their society or to fight it from within was cause or effect of their distrust; either way, however, they have largely disappeared from the area in modern days, emigrating mostly to the Quatrinate Hegemony or the Dead Kingdoms, where folk are less judgmental. Surprisingly many Heivolk, however, went with them; they are still frequently found living among the Librians, who gladly welcome their presence, but many of them find that a faint yet intolerable barrier of strangeness separates them from the humans all around, and more than a few have gone in search of greener pastures.

Universally fair-faced and charismatic, the Heivolk (the word is both singular and plural) may share the immaculate yet welcoming beauty of the Archons or the intimidating, slightly alien perfection of the Fae, but either way they are charming and infectious in their earnestness for the causes which consume their hearts - which are not always the causes their heavenly ancestor upheld.

• -2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma. The celestial blood of their ancestors grants the Heivolk a pleasant demeanor and a sense of connection to the greater pattern of life. While not necessarily weak, Heivolk tend toward a slight build; few of them are muscular colossi, and the frailest have an almost waiflike quality, as if they don't fully comprehend the exercise of force. Those who take to a warrior's path rely upon quality equipment and training more often than on raw power. Conversely, they tend away from materialism in general and seldom have large loads of gear to haul around, preferring to keep their needs simple and share what wealth they acquire with deserving others.

• Outsider (native): need to eat and sleep.
• Low Light Vision.
• Resistance to acid 5, cold 5, and sonic 5.

• +2 racial bonus on Climb and Sense Motive checks. Heivolk possess an eerie intuition for the feelings of others, and they instinctively take to the seeking of new heights.

* Daylight (Sp): A Heivolk can use Daylight once per day as a caster of a level equal to his or her class levels (or 1 if not yet possessing a class).

• Automatic Languages: Common, Celestial. Bonus
Languages: Arcadian, Elven, Dwarven, Gnome, and Sylvan.

Favored Class: Marshal. A Heivolk character's marshal level does not count against him for multiclass purposes. While they are not invariably good, the grandchildren of the Invisible Shepherds are nearly always gregarious; they crave companionship and allegiance on a deeply instinctive level, and their majestic personalities usually mean that they attract followers rather than assuming a subservient role (even though many would prefer the latter), outshining those who attempt to command them and easily swaying others to their own banner instead.

• Level adjustment +1.
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Tielfings

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:41 am

Tieflings on Whiteleaf come in basically two varieties. Those whose diabolic (or more rarely demonic) ancestor visited a woman in the chauvinistic theocracy of Libruvuhr, giving her half-fiend children who in turn produced increasingly rarefied descendants until only a trace of Infernal (or Abyssal) blood remained, have generally faced such unrelenting opposition (and such long odds of making a difference, if they try to revolt or found a counterculture) that they have formed an almost complete diaspora from the region, settling in more tolerant neighboring states (for example, they appear in rather dramatic numbers in the Dead Kingdoms, whose historical enmity with Libruvuhr has been partially mollified by these expatriates' efforts to fit in). On the other hand, there is the Quatrinate house of Tanar'ruk, whose members are prized for their demonic heritage; the Hegemony encourages them to embrace the virulent powers of Dark Chaos within themselves, unleashing their perverse whims and destructive urges for the good of their family and their nation. Though still hideous in appearance and disturbing in manner, so that their peers find it challenging to respect them, the Tanar'ruk hold a secure position in the Quatrinatum, and understand realistically their poor chances of making a comparably decent life elsewhere.

(There should properly be a second Tiefling race in Whiteleaf, representing the devil-descended members of House Lucrezia, as these unquestionably have a bonus rather than a penalty to Charisma, taking a penalty to any of Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom instead. However, until I get around to creating one, the existing Tiefling rules must serve equally well for either variety of fiend-blooded.)

For further context on how Tieflings (of either house Tanar'ruk or Lucrezia) function in the Quatrinate Hegemony, here is a partial exchange from my old board, in which a prospective player intended to play a celestial-blooded Hegemony expatriate who lived in the Empire but severely criticized its culture. (He proved not to be a reliable participant in the board, and his intro scene never got a response; I still find this sad, as he would have been a great contributor to the project if he'd bothered to stick around.)
Me: I will be coming up with my own templates for the Hegemony breeds; the RAW planetouched and such are not really up to my standards. The aasimar will be one of the ones that changes a lot (for one thing they won't be called aasimars anymore), and I agree that they seem like a fitting choice for what you've been describing. Especially given that one of the Hegemony's assumptions is that "destined" pairings tend to be strongly attracted to each other, despite having overwhelmingly irreconcileable personalities; what's a dashing white-hat hero without a femme fatale? (Note that she won't be a tiefling per se, but might resemble the existing tiefling template more than what will end up keeping the name.)

Him: You read my mind about him having a tiefling (or variant of same) paramour, by the way. I'd rather their relationship be on the "it's complicated" side though, going along with his mixed feelings about his homeland and its arranged marriage sort of system.

Me: Generally not arranged marriages; usually it's more like a soap-opera esque pattern of compulsively being attracted to whoever is worst for you. Nobody is to blame, save perhaps for your inhuman parent or whatever deity you think is most responsible for your existence (I'd imagine petulantly blaming one's misfortunes on a creator tends to fly even when there are multiple deities who are little more than epic-level adventurers; humanity is nothing if not good at inventing excuses to dodge responsibility). You just keep ending up finding someone irresistable and making a stupid decision about getting involved with them; you're perfectly capable of choosing among several such someones over the course of time, but attempting to get a healthy relationship with someone who isn't your "soul mate" is comparable in effort to drinking water instead of whiskey when you were born alcoholic.

Him: He vocally supports the idea of creating a "best of both worlds" sort of bloodline in principle, but found himself getting severely cold feet when the time came to do his duty to the Party. The femme fatale in question could be an interesting semi-antagonist character trying to track him down in foreign lands to bring back to the old country.

Me: Again, not quite that sinister. Think India, not Oceania.
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Tch/Z/Djenkyri

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:50 am

Planetouched who descend from Axiomatic humanoids or from humans who once dallied with Outsider entities primarily devoted to Law (the relatively few of these which exist), members of this race are collectively referred to across Whiteleaf by the name of the Hegemonic house which contains the bulk of them, and not a single one has yet been heard to complain about such associations, even if they were strongly opposed to the Quatrinatum itself.

The Djenkyri tend to hold a somewhat disdainful view of the Common tongue (not least because it reliably refuses to standardize the proper pronunciation of their endonym). While Law believes in unity, it also believes in disambiguation, and so the Inevitables, Formians, Modronones and Devils routinely disdain the various Celestial agencies (including their own Archonic relatives, who see both sides of the argument with comparable frequencies) for their "naive and foolish" effort at creating a universal tongue. Those Lawtouched who have the ability to obtain telepathy somehow frequently pursue this option in order to avoid linguistic misunderstandings, enabling them to extract the pure meaning perfectly from any dialogue without getting hung up on poetic-but-distracting details of voice tone, word choice, and the like. Lacking that option, many Djenkyri seek to learn a variety of languages, and are often not above pretending not to know Common in order to snub those who rely exclusively on it.

Outside of the Hegemony or the Cosmic Clockworks, Djenkyri are vanishingly rare, despite their long lifespans and general resilience. Impelled equally toward both solitude and gregariousness, they often come across as socially awkward, even rude (in a society possessing Terrestrial psychological jargon, most would be diagnosed as high-functioning autists).

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CHAONDS

Post by willpell » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:22 pm

Placeholder to be filled in when inspiration strikes.
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ORCS

Post by willpell » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:51 pm

Not one living orc in Whiteleaf has any idea that his people were once the proud and powerful Grushna'khr, an empire as vast and as rich and just about as respected as the elven and dwarven kingdoms which still stand. Theirs had never been a culture that looked to the past with the fervor of their peers in the pre-human age, and it certainly is nothing of the sort now; the few beings alive who remember that age or possess a written codex describing it have no interest whatsoever in reminding the orcs of what they once were and had. But the sorry remnant of their former glory which remains among these bitter, reflexively violent creatures is nothing compared to what they have lost, and as much of a plague on the land as they now are, the dwarf and elf authorities would not have expurgated their histories in order to bury all memory of the Grushna'khr regime, if they did not have a deep-seated fear of the possibility that it could rise again from the sad remnants who now call themselves Orcs. A race of mighty individualists yet guided by a common purpose, they seemed poised to dominate the world once, until their own arrogance brought about their destruction, leaving them a shattered race with no will to remember their origins.

Whatever god the Grushna'khr might have worshipped is now dead, leaving The Lout in his stead, and the one-eyed war god has no interest in plumbing the mystery left behind by his predecessor; his concern is with the needs of the moment, as is true of the orcs themselves. It is said that the Solitaire himself fought in the final battle which heralded the end of the glorious era of the three great nations; if true, this would certainly go a long way toward explaining the orcs' current terror of the Daystar, for any avatar of the solar deity could not but have been a spectacular force of destruction, whose victims would hardly be irrational to still seek shelter from his wrath in the shadows. And yet, reading an account of the great war in which elves and dwarves set aside their long-standing rivalries to stand against the mighty orc empire, one cannot help but wonder how those two kingdoms could not survive against a single enemy without a deity's direct intervention. For all their physical might, the orcs of today are hardly a serious danger on the national scale; even if their many fractious tribes were united into a single tide of destruction, their facility for magic and strategy is so lacking as to leave them a minor inconvenience at worst for the elf, dwarf, and human regimes which would stand firm against them. So, even accounting for humanity's absence, how much more powerful must the Grushna'khr have been?

Regardless, today the orcs are but shadows of what they once might have been, with neither the brilliance to rule the world stage nor the willpower to think of trying; brutish marauders with no course of second resort for when force fails to solve their problems, they are a study in misery that seems fit only to perpetuate their grim lot at the expense of others. Though their immediate presence is certainly cause for horror among those who live under the shadow of their threat, they are ultimately easy prey for the military resources of the other races, and can at best inflict short-term damage which earns a ferocious reprisal and leaves them still more crippled for long thereafter, though somehow they can never seem to be entirely wiped out. A dim awareness of their eternal underdog status appears to be gradually creeping into the orcish mindset, and a few of the piggish creatures have cast aside their trademark greataxes and gone in search of some new way of making a life for themselves, be it as hired muscle in a human town or subservient beasts of burden in the depths of the Underdark slave-kingdoms. Anything, these few slightly less dull pennies in the grimy fountain of orcish intellect might reason, is better than the sorry state they currently enjoy.
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DROW

Post by willpell » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:51 pm

While their schism from the rest of the elven races is known to have been instigated by the goddess-turned-demoness who became known as the Spider Queen, as part of her schemes to attain true divinity (which, ironically, she finally gained completely by accident some time thereafter and promptly abandoned her followers), the drow were not in fact transformed either by her or by their spurned relatives as their mythology indicates. Their black skin and pale, nearly transparent hair are simply adaptations to their environment, developed through long periods of attunement to the area and observance of its rhythms - which in this case were the venomous and predatory motions of spiders and other cave creatures.

A twisted and violent society which seems perpetually on the verge of tearing itself apart, the drow empire is comparable in size to humanity's territory on the suface, but as divided as the Imperium is unified, with a demonstrated but persistently un-acknowledged incapability of accomplishing any real agenda, because of their pathological need to compete against one another even unto mutual destruction. And yet...they are the only elven race to routinely possess inborn magic which requires no training at all, and to harmlessly absorb spell energies on contact as often as they actually succumb to the effects. It is almost as though, by succumbing to depravity and the worst traits of chaos, the drow have unleashed some of the power in the elven soul, which every other race takes such pains to lock away....

Surface-dwelling expatriates are 1% of 1% of the Drow population, but that population was huge enough in the first place that there are decent numbers of these (maybe a hundred in all of history, perhaps three or four times that number, but almost certainly not more than that). The majority of these exiled Drow still maintain the same overall (un)ethical compass they felt when living in the Underdark; they have simply come to realize that the relatively minor inconvenience of exposure to sunlight is more than compensated for by the greater survivability of life outside of a cave system. (Of course, Drow ideology teaches that any save the strongest should not survive, but it's fairly unsurprising how often an individual condemned by this philosphy fails to actually permit their own death.)

Stats: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma -2 Constitution, +2 to Search/Spot/Listen, superior darkvision, secret door detection, enchantment resistance, spell resistance, spell-like abilities, immunities, favor wizard (or cleric if female), LA +2.
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Duergar

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:23 pm

There is hardly a more miserable race on (or more precisely in) the world of Whiteleaf than the Dwerger - and they wouldn't have it any other way. Like the Drow and at about the same time, the Dwerger split from their parent race thousands of years ago and followed their patron into the Underdark, rejecting the principles of Good which their cousins adhered to in favor of a brutal philosophy of absolute strength. Unlike the Drow, however, the Dwerger did not follow a decadent and sadistic spider-goddess, and unlike the Drow's dreadful matron, the Dwerger's hellish overlord still rules over them with an iron fist. Where the now-departed dark-elf goddess sculpted her dark elf children into decadent hedonists with a ruthless thirst for control, the grey dwarves' master taught a very different lesson in how to succeed in the harsh world they now called home - they could prosper only through ceaseless toil, he instructed, and they must obey absolutely, as he dictated the purpose which would consume every moment of their very long lives. There was to be no cessation to the work, no breaks, no safety measures, nothing but the barest measure of survival and the ceaseless preparation for a war he taught was inevitable. No matter how great their suffering, the dwerger must never relax their guard, never succumb to indolence and self-indulgence; such weakness could result only in destruction, and nothing mattered other than that their great nation must go on.

The gray dwarves look the part of the atrocious existence they lead; gaunt and withered, with not a single hair anywhere on the bodies of either gender, the dwerger live only for duty and exertion, ceaselessly working until they drop dead of exhaustion and then being promptly thrown into the nearest forge as fuel. Some dwerger dig, some build weapons, some farm the astonishingly bland mushrooms which are dried and mixed with stagnant water to form the pasty gruel which is their sole dietary staple. Some create children, and some drill them in the labor they are expected to take up the instant they are physically capable; some chronicle the race's mind-numbingly uneventful history, while others carefully maintain those records - and periodically expurgate "errors" which The Laborer has helpfully pointed out for correction. Some even train as infiltrators to breach the surface world, learning of its corruption and bringing back reports as to its weaknesses, to better prepare for the eventual attack.

Malnutrition is common among the dwerger, and its victims are not mourned for a moment even by their own mothers; self-worth is an utterly foreign concept to the gray dwarves, and if they cannot persist in their efforts then they were a waste of valuable space to keep alive. Though they look frail, they are possessed of a dogged determination which gives them remarkable endurance; even so they are nearly always worked to death well before reaching the limit of their natural lifespan (which itself has atrophied from that of the ancestral dwarves). They pride themselves, as much as they can be permitted any so positive an emotion, on their ability to endure punishment that even the monstrous races might quail at; they take slaves now and again for precisely this reason, not because the labor is needed, but to demonstrate to any young dwerger who might begin to question their ways exactly what weakness the other races have permitted themselves, and how it inevitably can result only in a quick death. Unlike other Underdark races, or even their nearest cousins the "deep dwarves", the dwerger do not suffer a sensitivity to bright light - it is just another trial which they suffer through without complaint, and they drill with focused crystal lamps specifically to force their eyes to adapt to both light and darkness, so that they are never caught at a disadvantage.

So glum and joyless is the existence of the dwerger that it is anathema to the effusive expression of personal longings which forms the basis of all psychic power; ergo, the deep dwarves are not psionic, as is sometimes rumored by their foes. Their seeming sixth sense about the actions of their foes is due to keen tactical thinking (which is the only use many dwerger have for their brain anymore), and to the meticulous intelligence-gathering which precedes any strike; despite not having the physical frailty of dark elves to force them toward guerilla warfare, the dwerger have no particular fondness for a fair fight, and will do their best to put their foes down swiftly and with brutal efficiency. No, the gray dwarves do not have psionic abilities - or rather they do, but only one. Every dwerger is surrounded by a small (5 ft.) null psionics field, and like the dwerger themselves (or at least as they proclaim they are, in strangely self-congratulatory accounts of their own individual worthlessness, "sung" in a droning monotone to indoctrinate young dwerger for their lives of obedience), these negation fields are individually weak....but together, in sufficient number, become nearly invincible. The field only negates psionics, not magic or spiritual projections; both of these are older and more primal forces than the intensely personal realm of psionics, and The Laborer is powerless to defeat them, much to his chagrin. The psionic nullification of dwergers is particularly punishing to wilders, as their powers more than any other manifester's come from boiling emotion; just being near a dwerger, even if undetected by him, is enough to ruin a wilder's day, for the dreary aura often seems to cling to the victim's mind like a bad smell for hours after an encounter, siphoning away all joie de vivre and replacing it with a bleak wasteland of grim realities, in which oneself feels tiny and worthless.

Dwerger might seem to possess another remarkable ability, but it is only an illusion; though they are often spoken of as being invisible, they are in truth simply nigh-impossible to pay attention to unless they make themselves obvious. This is a function of their utter lack of personal magnetism; a gray dwarf simply blends into the landscape of any drab, stony environment, seeming utterly insignificant and not even registering on the observer's consciousness. This functions similarly to a cloud mind power affecting everyone in the dwerger's presence, but it is not psionic or otherwise supernatural at all; these unhappy creatures are simply so utterly banal that it is hard to even acknowledge their presence, let alone attach any meaning to it. They may be assumed to be servants, mistaken for a trick of the light, or ignored completely, but so long as they appear only a few at a time and do nothing hostile, their presence goes unremarked by all but the most observant of persons.
Mechanics: Apply a -20 penalty to all Spot checks to recognize the presence of a lone dwerger as long as he isn't doing anything worthy of protest, beyond simply being present where he wasn't invited. The penalty drops to -10 if between two and four dwerger are present, and disappears in the presence of a larger number. A person who has fought the dwerger is generally immune to this effect, and sufficiently high-level characters simply have high enough Spot checks to notice the dwerger as a matter of course, but most of the populace will never be aware of several infiltrators skulking among them, gathering knowledge and planning for the inevitable assault.

Though in a state of constant military preparedness, the dwerger do far less actual fighting than they would prefer; their god expects to have to wage war against the surface world someday, but he is a being of superlative prudence and caution, and will not make a move as long as any variables remain unaccounted for. Unlike most evil deities, The Laborer is not motivated by either hate or fear; he simply believes that emotion is wasteful and obedience the only purpose to existence, and wants to see the dwarven people survive at all costs, something he is convinced can only happen if they harden themselves utterly against privation and eliminate all possible threats to their survival. His goal is to see the dwerger survive unchanged when all other empires have crumbled to dust; all happiness is fleeting to him, and his people better off not even imagining it.
Last edited by willpell on Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Twin-Souls (legally distinct from Dvati)

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:18 pm

The complete text of this totally original creation can be found here, so since there isn't much to add, I'll just stick the original writeup in this post, and pretend that it was someone else's hacky attempt at stealing my own personal copyrighted fluff and spackling it onto Wotco material.

Topic started by: willpell on September 19, 2012, 12:53:43 AM
Title: 3.5 Dvati Homebrew
Post by: willpell on September 19, 2012, 12:53:43 AM There is an official 3.5 conversion of the 4E Dvati race in Dragon Compendium, but since I don't have that and am likely to be picky about the details of a concept like this anyway, I thought I'd start cobbling together my own version. Having never read the 4E version, I'm just building the general concept from the ground up, without access to the published details.

********

Roughly 3% of human pregnancies result in the production of twins, and in most cases the mother is as likely to regret the extra mouth to feed as she is to be thankful for this extra blessing upon her household. But in about one out of twelve cases, the creation of two infants within a single womb is only a precursor to a real miracle: the birth of one of the Dvati, or Twin-Souls. No one is entirely sure whether a Dvati starts out as a pair of twins (either identical or fraternal) whose nascent souls somehow merge into a single individual, or if a single fertilized egg somehow produces a Dvati soul which then divides it into a pair of fetuses, and in some cases even changes the gender of one half of the original egg. Regardless, when the birth occurs, it appears as though two new lives have entered the world, but in truth they are only one: a single soul which controls two bodies, separate yet eternally connected, of one mind and living (or dying) in unison.

Human beings have always been creatures of duality, and the dvati take this to an extremely literal extent. One of the most profound divergences in the human condition is the contrast between the sexes, but because of their duplicated selves, dvati have three possible genders - double-male, double-female, and the rare male-female pairing. (The existence of these demonstrates that the "dvati process" can be triggered even in fraternal twins, though all single-gendered dvati appear to be identical, unless this is the result of the two sharing their characteristics as they grow from their embryonic beginnings.) Occurring in only two cases out of twelve, the other ten being standard single-gender pairs, dvati "hermaphrodites" appear to outside observers to be simply a man and a woman, as nearly identical as they can possibly be without ceasing to be distinct sexes - sometimes both are androgynous, while other times one is clearly the "predominant" sex and the other a transgendered equivalent. In either case, the pair live through all the variant biorhythms of both bodies, and thus their understanding of the gender divide is impossible to match, even for shapeshifters who have taken turns as one or the other.

An unusual detail of Dvati physiology is that one member of each pair is a mirror image of the other; the other's anatomy is exactly the same as a human, differing only in metaphysical apparatus which is impossible to discover with any amount of mundane measurement. Only mystical examination is capable of understanding the mechanisms by which two bodies can contain a single soul, which shares both sets of experiences even when they are a thousand miles apart. The "normal" dvati is referred to as the "sinister self", and the "flipped" version is known as the "dexter", since its heart is on the right-hand side of its chest; these names derive from the same old names for left and right as the common-sense meaning of "sinister" and the associated concept of "taking the left-hand path", but the dvati hold no such superstition, since the sinister body is exactly as good or evil as the dexter without exception.

The mystical link between two dvati bodies is nearly impossible to circumvent; a dvati can fill two stomachs with food fed only into a single mouth, and can even excrete from a body which has not eaten if doing so is somehow impossible for the other body. All sensations are shared identically by both bodies, even if their particulars differ slightly, a fact that espionage-inclined dvati are quick to exploit as a method of silent communication - one body spies, signals its other half by tapping on its hand or the like, and allies of a safely-located other body decipher the resulting messages. Likewise, a dvati who lacks other uses for its time can serve as a living communications terminal, its range limited only by the travel ability of both halves and the risks they are willing to share when apart from each other.

Dvati do not breed true among themselves; their children are exactly as likely to be new dvati (or regular twins) as the children of ordinary humans. When one female body becomes pregnant, the dvati's other body has any female reproductive processes completely arrested (this extends to a naturally-male body if it is transformed into a female form). Only one body will contain an actual fetus, but both partners experience every detail of the pregnancy, up to and including phantom labor pains (not that this matters since a single mind exists in both bodies). If both bodies are female, the non-pregnant one grows an empty placenta and delivers it at the same time as the actual birth. Regardless of their appearance, a two-gendered dvati is necessarily bisexual; it's far from unheard-of for a dvati to ask a paramour who has only met one of its bodies to disregard its usual preferences in order to include the other body, although refusal does not always doom the relationship. While dvati do not mind having their bodies have sex with each other, viewing this as masturbation rather than an act of incest (though more than one parent who was unaware that their twin children were really a single person has discovered the truth in this alarming fashion), it is impossible for a two-gendered dvati to impregnate itself. Likewise, even the most carefully-timed synchronized sex ritual cannot cause both of a female-twin dvati's bodies to become pregnant. Title: Re: 3.5 Dvati Homebrew
Post by: willpell on September 19, 2012, 04:17:18 AMDvati have the following characteristics

* Each of a dvati's bodies is Medium size. There are no special bonuses or penalties for size, apart from having double the total weight of a human individual. (Use the height/weight statistics for a human character to determine the size of either body of a dvati; the two are always identical, save possibly for gender and for any distinguishing marks which only one body receives.)

* Dvati are Humanoids with the {Human} subtype.

* Dvati base land speed (per body) is 30 ft.

* Dvati whose bodies are both male gain a +3 bonus on Sense Motive rolls to understand other men and a +3 bonus on Diplomacy rolls to influence women. The inverse is true of female-pair dvati. Dvati whose bodies are of different genders, who comprise only 1/5 of the race, have a +2 bonus to Sense Motive and Diplomacy rolls at all times.

* A Dvati has a single pool of Hit Points representing their lifeforce, which is jointly located in both of their bodies. Any injury, illness, poison or similar form of harm which affects one of a dvati's bodies is instantly mirrored on the other - if a dvati's dexter body gets a cut on its left arm, the sinister body's right arm will rip open at the same point, and the wound will appear forensically identical despite having not been inflicted by the same physical weapon. There are only a few ways to cause a dvati's appearance to vary between bodies - tattoos work, as the ink is not duplicated (the other body will have a red welt where the needles pierced the skin, but it will heal without a mark), and it is possible to scarify one body by holding the wound open or packing it with a sealant while the other body is permitted to heal the same wound.

* A Dvati takes +50% damage from an area attack which encompasses both its bodies. Because the dvati appears to the untrained eye to be a pair of similar-looking but separate individuals, a spellcasting who fails a DC 18 Knowledge: Religion or DC 25 Knowledge: Local check is likely to target the two creatures with spells which may not be able to legally target the same creature twice, potentially causing teh spell to fail. Because a dvati's soul is distributed across two bodies, it receives a +4 bonus to its saving throws against death effects or spells such as Magic Jar; if the save fails anyway, a death effect kills both bodies, while Magic Jar causes one body to fall dead while the caster possesses the other, unless the caster is also a dvati.

* Because a dvati has two bodies, it can potentially take two actions for every one action of a normal character, if its two bodies are present in the same location. However, attempting to act independently with both bodies is difficult, akin to trying to hold a pen in each hand and write separate messages (though the dvati are "ambidextrous", and neither body is at a greater disadvantage than the other). Conversely, when a single task is being performed by both dvati, it is substantially easier because of the extra pair of hands, eyes, and so forth which are devoted to the action. As a result, the following modifiers apply to any skill check, ability check, or attack roll that a dvati performs (saving throws are unaffected):
- If both bodies are performing exactly the same action, the check for that action receives a +2 bonus (functionally this is the Aid Another action being performed by the second body, although success in performing this Aid is automatic). This bonus can only be gained if the action would be possible for two persons to perform in concert; thusly two dvati cannot pick a single lock, nor do they gain any benefit on Hide, Jump, Balance and similar checks, which must be performed for each body. However, most Craft, Perform, and Profession checks benefit, as do skills such as Intimidate, Gather Information, Search, Spot, Listen, Spellcraft, Truespeak, most applications of Survival and some of Diplomacy, etc. Purely mental skills such as Knowledges and Autohypnosis cannot gain this bonus, nor can most Intelligence checks. To gain this bonus on an attack roll, the two bodies must be attacking the same target, with the same weapons or lack of weapon, from the same distance and position (eg one archer on a high ledge and the other on the ground would not gain the bonus), and performing the same combat maneuver (attack, full attack, disarm, trip, sunder, etc). The two bodies can flank for each other, and the flanking bonus stacks with the bonus for identical attacks.
- If the two bodies are performing analogous but distinct skill checks, such as simultaneously picking two separate but identical locks, no bonus or penalty applies. This also includes when both are making similar attacks (same combat maneuver with same weapon) on different targets or at different distances from the target.
- If the two bodies are performing completely distinct actions (one is picking a lock while the other breaks down a door, or both are picking locks with significantly different mechanisms), including attacking with different weapons or performing different combat maneuvers, a -2 penalty applies to both attacks. Title: Re: 3.5 Dvati Homebrew
Post by: willpell on September 24, 2012, 11:59:14 AMDvati and special powers

* Magic: A dvati's two bodies can only cast a single spell at a time (normally one spell per turn, though some spells and feats can allow casting a second spell as a swift action). All verbal and somatic components must be performed by both bodies. However, if one body is unable to use one or more components, a Concentration check (DC 10 + 5 for each missing component) can allow the other body to use the components before casting the spell from the restrained body. Thusly, a gagged Dvati could Shocking Grasp her attacker if her other body performed the spell's verbal component with a DC 15 check; if she were also bound (with a hand able to reach her target, but not to perform the full range of somatic gestures the spell requires), the other body could supply both verbal and somatic components with a DC 20 check. If both bodies are indisposed, spellcasting remains impossible. Regardless, a spell cast by the dvati may use either body as the origination point when measuring range to a target or when determining the area of a burst, emanation or spread.

* Psionics: As with magic, either of a dvati's bodies can be the origin point for a power's range or area. The two bodies share a single mind, a single power point pool, and can hold a single psionic focus.

* Meldshaping: Any soulmeld shaped by a dvati appears in the same place on both bodies; any chakra binds are likewise identical, with the two bodies' crown chakras (for instance) being no more separate than the hands chakra of a typical humanoid, which can be accessed through either hand. The two bodies do, however, have independent e pools; anything which adds or removes e to one body automatically affects the other likewise (so it is not possible to abuse a Ring of Essentia Sharing or the like), but the identical quantities of e in the two bodies can be allocated to their soulmelds differently (with the usual penalties on any actions which differ between the two bodies).
- Dvati often become incarnates, believing that their skill with e allocation demonstrates an inherent talent for soulshaping; good dvati see themselves as living testaments to the essential unity of all living things and the benefit of cooperation, while an evil dvati sees his "other half" as the only person worthy of trust, and wishes all other creatures could be subsumed into himself. A dvati law incarnate is likely to engage almost entirely in coordinated strikes, performing all actions in tandem to gain the +2 bonus for aiding herself, while most chaotic dvati incarnates intentionally accept the -2 penalty for acting independently, seeing their two-body status as a way to experience twice as much of the world's variety all at once (many go so far as to live completely separate lives with their bodies in far-distant locales, something their lawful counterparts regard as idiocy). Dvati who take up the soulsworn class are likely to regard the two components of their alignment as more distinct than is typical of such warriors; to a Paladin, Law and Good are an integrated whole, but a Lawful Good dvati soulsworn may see them as two sides of a coin, and have her selves play 'good cop, bad cop' with those who betray traces of evil or chaotic inclination. Few dvati are totemists, as the race tends to be urbane in its preferences, but at least a few tribes of human primitives have seen the birth of a dvati, who nearly always takes up a shamanic role as either a spellcaster of some sort or a totemist (most often honoring a multi-headed or otherwise dualistic totem).
- Several Dvati-specific soulmelds exist which play up these tendencies.

* Soul Binding: Having only one soul between his bodies, a dvati binder is much like any other, apart from the fact that the two bodies may independently show or suppress the vestige's sign if the binder is level 2 or greater and has made a good pact. There is one exception: if both bodies are present at the location of the binding circle, the dvati may make her binding check at a +2 bonus by presenting the two bodies as separate "assets" for the vestige to inhabit. In this case, if the binding check succeeds, it is a "good pact" as normal, and if the check fails by 5 or more, it is a "bad pact". But if the check fails by 1-4 points (essentially, the range between a +2 bonus and a +2 penalty), then one body has a good pact and the other a bad one; the player chooses one body which the vestige has essentially claimed as its own during the pact, and the link between the two bodies is disrupted for the duration of the pact. During this time, divide the character's hit points between the two bodies (if the total is odd, the extra point goes to the body which made the good pact). Whenever the good-pact body violates the Influence of the vestige, while it incurs no penalty itself, the vestige gains 1 "ire point" for the duration of the pact. Whenever the good-pact body takes damage, half of that damage is instead taken by the other body, but this amount is reduced by 1 for each ire point the vestige has gained. (Thusly, if Roxor's male body has made a good pact while hes female body is hosting Amon's dominant consciousness, if Roxor-Male has defied Amon's hatred of divine spellcasters twice today, Amon has two "ire points". If Roxor-Male then takes 9 points of damage, he would normally assign 4 of them to hes female body, but instead Amon will allow him to transfer only 2 points of damage, taking the remaining 7 himself.) Because of this division, it is possible for one half of the dvati to fall unconscious or die while the other lives; in this case, as soon as the pact expires, half of the conscious and alive dvati's hit points are transferred to the other body, unless this would be insufficient to raise the other body above -10 hit points, in which case the surviving immediately dies. If either body remain at between -1 and -9 hit points after the exchange, both are rendered unconscious. If either body is at 0 hit points, both are disabled. Once this status is determined, combine the two bodies' hit point totals again.

* Truenaming: The two Dvati both have a single truename, although it is possible to specify only one body for any purely physical effect. Utterance effects may originate from either body as with spells and psionic powers. The Law of Resistance acknowledges both bodies of the dvati as a single individual; even if only one has been affected by an utterance, that utterance becomes more difficult to speak on the same dvati.

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ILLUMINES

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:13 pm

The Illuminati, or Illuminated Ones, are visibly indistinguishable from humans except in a tiny percentage of cases, where they display a visible "halo". It is rumored that they once all possessed these feature, but were at the time the creations of a deity who has since been displaced by one of his former subordinates, and that the new patron required a greater degree of subtlety in her agents. Thusly, they are generally successful in masquerading as members of the dominant population.

The only "tell" of an Illumine's status is the occasional flickering of two different, brightly-colored symbols in the pupils of their eyes; it takes a DC 25 Spot Check for a character to get a good enough look at a given Illumine's eyes, and there is only a 10% chance even then that the symbols are actually showing at that instant. Even then, the character only glimpses the sigils momentarily; a full minute or more of staring directly into an illumian's eyes will eventually allow the character to get a good enough fix on them that the actual symbol can be made out. However, the Illuminated Ones avoid eye contact as a general rule, both to hide this sign and out of a general distaste for social intimacy with the actual human race.

The only other difference between humans and illumines is that fully half of the latter, of both genders, don't have a single hair on their bodies, apart from eyelashes and very thin eyebrows. Even among the other half, beards and chest/back hair are extremely uncommon in illuminati males, while females seldom have a large cup size; the race think of both "hirstute" and "buxom" as primitive traits typical of actual humans, and regard themselves as being a more evolved offshoot, who infiltrate human society with the intention of painlessly replacing it over time.

Illuminati are a local variant of the Illumian race as it exists in "Races of Destiny"; if you do not have that supplement, treat them as humans instead, but remove their bonus skill points, and select their extra feat as something exotic which encourages multiclassing, or replace it with a homebrewed ability slightly stronger than an average feat.

"I am one of the Children of the Word. We consider ourselves human, but we are not recognized as such by the Imperial Certification Commission."
--an Illumine druid lying through her teeth
Last edited by willpell on Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MAENADS

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:31 pm

Originally posted Sun Oct 18, 2015 1:36 pm

Most of the cultures around Whiteleaf have at least vague memories of a Golden Age, a time when a shiningly perfected urban civilization, full of wonders and home to inherently "better" human beings than the poor sods alive today. Often, this sense is derived from recollections of an early encounter between human peasants and highly developed civilizations of semi-immortals, such as the elves or the Dead Kingdoms; other times, it's merely the urge for people to lie to themselves, escaping modern miseries and romanticizing the past. But once in a while, it's because the region secretly has Maenads living among the populace.

Dominant forces on Whiteleaf, including the deity spoken of as the Invisible Hand, have a preference for keeping a certain veneer over the day-to-day affairs of the common folk; it wouldn't do for near-human beings to go walking around with eerily perfect faces, glowing halos of runes, or worst of all glitter literally growing out of their skins. Therefore, of all the Maenads living on Whiteleaf, only a tiny pocket of isolationists display the crystalline growths flecking their skins which are described in the Expanded Psionics Handbook and elsewhere; in the vast majority of cases, the naturally psionic and fiercely emotional Maenads are indistinguishable from humans, at least until a detailed surgical examination discovers the presence of natural silicon microcircuitry bonded to their neural network. These tiny crystals act as transmitters and collectors of body heat, converting it to the peculiar modulation of biolectric energy necessary to empower the brain's usually-dormant psi-cortex; they were originally built by the ancestors of today's Maenads, but the tiny constructs were capable of self-replication, and eventually insinuated themselves into the very genome of those who had spent millenia constantly operating them from the age of 2 or 4 onward.

Whatever long-vanished metropolis the Maenad race once founded, and whatever secrets it may hold, the crystal flecks in the expatriates' flesh are the only surviving trace, and they never poke through the skin among any who must interact with unmodified specimens of humanity. No trace of the lost city has been found, despite the existence of numerous very bored adventurer-archaeologists throughout the Empire, each one ambitiously determined to discover the next Tnlour Verdant or Pyramid of Zargon.

-----------

A highly advanced technomantical civilization once flourished on Whiteleaf, and now little remains of it but memories - those memories, however, are particularly strong in the Maenad race, being after all part of their very flesh. While the influence of the divine forces has ensured that these quasi-human beings look entirely normal - their cousins in other planes may have flecks of crystal sparkling in their skin, but they lack this obvious "tell" - they are nonetheless permanently marked by the sorcience of their ancestors. Microscopic crystals were artificially implanted in their ancestors' bodies, empowered to self-replicate so that their children were similarly augmented while still in the womb; these pyropsionic devices convert their possessor's ambient body heat into psychic energy, which once was used to operate a variety of implanted talismans, very few of which have survived. Thusly, most of the maenads of today have no better use for this psionic reserve than to study the craft of manifesting, or at least the skill of mental focus; they experience the surfeit of unchanneled energy as a tingling sensation, like a coiled spring in their soul, but if they do not practice any appropriate talents, the surplus power simply bleeds off into the ether over time.

Maenad flesh is cool to the touch, matching room temperature exactly; all of the excess heat that would otherwise be generated through metabolism is instead captured by the neurocrystalline network. While these innate power points grant all maenads the ability to meditate and gain psionic focus (a talent of some utility to spellcasters, and compatible with psionic-combat feats which even a fighter can take), those who never take manifesting classes cannot otherwise harness this advantage. Several maenad-specific feats grant additional options for handling this power reserve, and a handful of the items which once enhanced urbane maenads' lifestyles have managed to survive the aeons, awaiting reactivation. While other races possess natural psionic talent, none are so nearly human as the maenads; the decadent immortal Sadhu and the extradimensional Schizoi have fewer patrons among the celestial forces than these nearest cousins of mankind.

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Goblins

Post by willpell » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:19 pm

The closest sentient equivalent to rabbits, gophers, rats, and similar varmints (the word is used in place of "vermin" in contexts like these, since the latter term is specific to invertebrates), the core Goblin species, also known as "bogles", are distinguished from other goblinoids by their small size, quickness, cowardice, and above all their incredible fecundity. Known as The Survivor after his superlative concern with his children, the deity of goblinkind is said to have overdesigned his first two child-races, with the Bugbears having extreme rapine tendencies and the Hobgoblins being just as outrageous in the other direction, to the point that in both cases it threatened the species' long-term viability. Since hyperactive libidos were crucial to his design, the god found a novel solution in the third and final major goblin race - he made them completely indiscriminate.

A female bogle is never not in estrus, and while they do not actively enjoy conception, pregnancy, or birthing, neither do they fear any of these in the slightest. With a completely lacksadaisacal attitude toward the attentions of males, goblin matrons whelp their spawn with all the interest they display toward their bowel movements; the young are born in litters of ten or so, with the full expectation that at least nine of them will die before she manages to get knocked up again. The infants are not nursed so much as compelled to ambush their mother's teats (given that she has only two, this involves a great deal of pushing and shoving among the hungry maggots, and more than a few manage to kill each other at this stage despite their weakness); the female's only concern in the meantime is shoveling high-protein foodstuffs (most often grubs and caterpillars dug out of the dirt walls of the warren), she does nothing to facilitate or discourage the mosquito-like method by which her offspring suckle; it makes good practice for when they grow up to feed the same way she's doing. With absolutely no formal social effort, goblinkind has evolved behavior patterns which reinforce this dysfunctional reproductive status quo; a female makes no attempt at hiding or protecting her genitalia or nipples, and has no alarm reaction when suddenly mounted without a word of preamble. Males are equally blase about the process (by a similar token, a goblin who has an itch may well use his nearest neighbor's protruding toenails as a scratching post); the bogle bachelor experiences only the vaguest distant semblance of pleasure when he blows his load, and has no appreciation whatsoever for his "babymomma", or for that matter any incest taboo with regard to the possibility that she may be his own sister. (Having incredibly dim mental bulbs, the goblins don't bother remembering anything, and their warrens are totally communal societies, so all the young born at a given time will intermingle freely.)

Given all this, the littlest goblinoids are held in profound contempt by humans and elves, and outright hated by dwarves and gnomes (and the latter seldom bother hating anything). Yet on very, very rare occasions (far less commonly than the Drow by percentage of population, though much more so in terms of total numbers - alas, they also die at about four times the rate and seldom last longer than a few months), a goblin is born with a tiny extra spark of potential, and manages to rise above his or her meager circumstances. There are absolutely no opportunities for social advancement in these burrows - the concept of a "goblin king" always refers to hobgoblins, as the bogles have even less of a concept of "leaders" than the badgers, armadillos, dire rats and giant beetles that compete with them for tunneling space. Thusly, a marginally self-aware goblin wishing to pursue the call of some greater Destiny invariably must venture onto the surface (or occasionally burrow deeper in search of the Underdark, but between guardian dwarves and hungry aberrations, they virtually never survive long enough to meet the Drow and really regret this decision); once there, he faces extraordinary obstacles, but still has at least the ghost of a chance of making something of himself. The bogles' reproductive compulsions are one of the greatest sources of friction in such cases (this often being literal, as males may end up humping the ankles of a human who happens to smell too much like a goblin fem; females themselves instead start to eventually notice the lack of the regular molestations they were used to, and the faint craving they've never previously had to consciously acknowledge will likely make them start rubbing up against pieces of furniture, growing more annoyed with every failure and never understanding what the problem is).

All of this describes the default bogle race, with its +2 Dexterity, and most people think this is all the goblins can ever hope to become. Yet in regions where the burrower lifestyle abruptly fell apart, a different version of goblinkind has begun to come into being. Distinguished by longer ears and noises, more brightly colored skin, and a shortage of the sparse and irregular body hair of their cousins, these "scrubs" tend to live in constructed villages on the surface rather than grubbling in the dirt, and they frequently sublimate their raging sexual compulsions into various craft projects. With an innate +2 to Intelligence (although most are still stupider than humans across the statistical range, simply because they continue to live in rough wildlands where Constitution, Wisdom, and Dexterity offer more of a survival benefit), this subrace has a tendency to gravitate towards mechanical tinkering and experimenting with chemicals, although their projects end in disaster on a regular basis. (They actively discourage efforts at safety-engineering, not consciously realizing that their instinctive disgust at the idea of "idiot-proofing" is an expression of the Survivor's desire to keep their population balanced. They still spawn nearly as many pups as their "wild" cousins, but have a lower natural mortality rate, so both males and females are strongly encouraged to engage in extreme-risk behavior, not only in pursuit of a revolutionary discovery to improve their future lives, but simply for their own entertainment.)

(Mechanically, a scrub is a "blue", as described in the Psionics Handbook. Few of them actually gain psionic levels, however, as there is no tradition of it among most of their enclaves; instead, they subconsciously gain and expend psionic foci while performing various Crafts, or even sorcerous experiments, and otherwise never use their power points. For the moment, no mechanical enforcement is attached to this, and the Scrub race is simply more rewarding to players than the standard Goblin; I hope to fix this eventually.)

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Bugbears

Post by willpell » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:52 pm

The largest and fiercest goblinoid species, bugbears do not fare well in the world's overall ecology, being saddled with nigh-worthless Humanoid hit dice which sharply limit their ability to gain class levels. Still, exceptions occur, and these often become legendary; history is unlikely to ever forget such famous buggers as the blackguard Boborogmys, the highwayman Hoogglebarger, or the martyred mercenary Murklemagnum (it's probably coincidence that these all alliterate, although the species does seem to have a predilection toward puns, rhyme, and other trivial tricks of apparent linguistic cleverness, which more sophisticated sapients have generally outgrown). History might wish it could forget, but the bugbears of today don't intend to permit it, and they never tire of reminding everyone that nearly every bugbear alive traces his history back through an unbroken line of proudly unrepentant rapists. Visually almost indistinguishable in gender, bugbears all act like males, and in truth they hope to be mistaken for males, but the pheremones which betray half of them as female drive the other half into an uncontrollable frenzy of lust (and they weren't big on control to begin with); non-bugbears almost never meet a female, even without realizing it, because eons of being hunted as prey have made them incredibly reclusive, a fact which only eggs on the males even more in pursuit of them.

The word "bugbear" is related linguistically to a legion of appropriate Common terms - "bogeyman", "buggery", "boor", "bugaboo", and the verb "to bug" as a synonym for "to bother", among others. The "manliest" of bugbears are those that remain in the wild, continuing to hunt for the mothers of their children; it is those who are unsuccessful in such stalking which gravitate toward the seamier civilized regions, seeking to impress creatures weaker than themselves and gain the ego boost which they crave (to compensate for extremely deep-seated unconscious senses of inadequacy, which they never willingly acknowledge, and would die screaming rather than admit under torture). Unable to get the satisfaction their libido craves directly, they enjoy misdirecting their impulses into acts which don't actually bring them physical release, but are psychologically enjoyable - almost all of which revolve around making the other person uncomfortable. Not having sexual dimorphism themselves, bugbears don't readily recognize it in other species; unless they make the effort to learn what those big round things on the fronts of some humans' chests are, they very well may regard every human (or elf or dwarf) as female, just because they're so much smaller and weaker than themselves, as an actual female bugbear is only marginally so. (Some theorists have speculated that an undernourished bugger actually becomes biochemically female, and a female that grows stronger spontaneously becomes male, but they've been unable to secure any comment from actual bugbears on the idea, and often been mauled for bringing it up.) Thusly, a "civilized" bugbear is likely to engage in sexual-harassment-type behaviors toward any civilized humanoid of either gender (although they tend to leave gnomes and halflings alone, as these are just too tiny). As often as not, this gets them run out of town; a prejudice against bugbears is one of the most commonly tolerated forms of "fantastic racism" which remains in the politically-correct Empire, as virtually no documented cases of discrimination against these hulking goblinoids have ever proven unjustified.

Bugbears feel a trace of genuine affection towards their bogle cousins, although the recipients seldom appreciate this, as it's likely to be expressed through roughhousing (and the bugbears are easily six times as massive, making this painful indeed, occasionally even fatal); these are about the only tender feelings these brutes ever have, and are entirely unique to their "little brother" race. By contrast, the "middle brother" Hobgoblins are hated with an intense passion, not only due to differing ethical alignment, but due to the gender politics of the two species - hobs are not much more gender-divergent in appearance than any other goblinoid, but their society is overwhelmingly segregated by sex, with the females predominating, and the bugbears regard this as beyond outrageous. If the arch-chaotic bugbears were ever to operate collectively as a single unit, it could be for no other purpose than to attack the Hatchet Kingdom; the small bugger tribes which maraud the Hinterlands have already exterminated pretty much every other hoblin enclave, but Had'Jet (the "Glorious Army") remains a dauntingly formidable monolith, and in fact uses exactly these to mark their borders in bugbear-heavy regions, since there is nothing their loutish kin are quicker to recognize and respect than a gigantic phallic symbol.

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Hobgoblins

Post by willpell » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:03 pm

Although every bit as innately savage as their larger cousins, and as desperate as their smaller ones, the most nearly humanlike of the goblin races differs radically from both of their cousins in their ability to trust one another - at least, as long as they are the same gender. There has never been any trust or sympathy between the two hoblin sexes; having seen the savagery of her brother first-hand, the hobs' creator-goddess Trakatha was determined that her sons would not be rapists...but they were still goblins, and so they could not have the urge to breed at every opportunity removed from them, at least not without utterly destroying their vitality and psychological health. Consequently, the hobgoblins became the first goblin race to build an ordered civilization - ruthlessly ordered, and devoted above all other concerns to sublimating the male sexual urge into a military dominance hierarchy, while empowering females as the iron-fisted rulers of the home front. The result is a highly efficient social machine, in which the vast majority of both males and females fail to breed and perpetuate their genes, but instead devote a lifetime to protecting and supporting the handful of elites who prove their worthiness.

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Re: Dwarves

Post by willpell » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:08 am

Dwarves are frequently suspicious of the human fetishes for sunlight, greenery, wind and open water, all of which are somewhat uncommon presences in their subterranean existence. While a few dwarven clanholds use mirrors to collect sunlight from the overworld and illuminate their halls, most are simply comfortable in the darkness, and view the prospect of a fiery ball at the zenith of the sky vault with some degree of anxiety, suspecting it of being a distant realm of harsh and hostile elemental creatures. Few dwarves are at home with agriculture, even though the Kingdoms are heavily reliant on the few exceptions to this preference in order to sustain their diet; even the gardeners operate on a somewhat industrial scale, and their facilities hardly resemble a forest. While happy to tap underground rivers, the dwarves have seldom seen any great expanse of water, although a few small clans have taken to seafaring. In no case does the foreign nature of these elements rise to the level of frightening or upsetting the dwarves, but neither do they bring them comfort, and many a dwarven adventurer has resented his human comrades' automatic assumption that a sunny day with a cool breeze is automatically "good" weather, and that flower-dotted meadows with babbling brooks are a relaxing and comfortable terrain to take one's ease in.

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Goliaths

Post by willpell » Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:51 pm

The Whiteleaf version of the Goliath race (first seen in Races of Stone) are known as the Transmontane, a race of former humans who formed an alliance with the stone and storm giants of their mountain homes, mastering a form of magic which draws on the power of earth and sky, and eventually interbreeding with these ancients (with the aid of the aforementioned magics). They are more handsome-looking than the canonical Goliaths, lacking the stony nodules visible in the Races of Stone illustrations; they are essentially just tall, muscular humans with stone-gray skin and very little facial or body hair. Their creation was originally guided by a deity known as the Surmounter, but they developed their own racial deities, known as the Great Ram and the Fruit of Labor, and then gradually moved away from worship of these three beings (the rest of the Goliath pantheon described in Races of Stone is not present on Whiteleaf, as they are too similar to other non-racial deities), being instead largely devoted to a druidic quasi-faith.

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