Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bestiarum vocabulum – Deodand (New Race)

I’ll be leaving town tomorrow to enjoy the national holyday of this Thursday (due to the celebrations of Corpus Christi). I’ll be back at Sunday, so this is probably my last post this week. And talking about it, next week I’m finishing another Little Encounter (the last Aeon entry of the Bestiary 2, finally!), a bunch of new Auguries, and a Worlbuidling post (or two) about magic-rich underworlds, secret psionic gods, devout wizards, purchasable clergy and other equally strange, dubious and contradictory (but I hope entertaining) topics.

Today’s entry isn’t exactly a bestiary. Here’s a different Bestiarum Vocabulum – instead of a monster, I’ll provide a new race for Pathfinder. I can’t explain why, but I always found Deodands (from Dying Earth) a cool candidate for a Player Character Race. Yeah, it’s an evil and cunning man-eater, sneaky and remorseless… well, so are orcs, with the difference that the later are already a little worn-out – although the core Tolkienian concept of the orc is, my opinion, still rarely understood or properly used in most campaign settings; in fact, you can argue that 90% of today’s orcs are Warhammer’s orcs, not Tolkien’s (or, lately, Warcraft’s orcs). Anyway, I love Deodands.

Bestiarum vocabulum – Deodand (New Race)

The keeper went to a shelf and took forth a leather-bound folio. "In a past eon Mad King Kutt ordained a menagerie like none before, for his private amazement and the stupefaction of the world. His wizard, Follinense, therefore produced a group of beasts and teratoids unique, combining the wildest variety of plasms; to the result that you see."
"The menagerie has persisted so long?" asked Garstang in wonder.
"Indeed not. Nothing of Mad King Kutt is extant save the legend, and a casebook of the wizard Follinense"— here he tapped the leather folio—'Vhich describes his bizarre systemology. For instance—" He opened the folio. "Well . . . hmmm. Here is a statement, somewhat less explicit than others, in which he analyzes the half-men, little more than a brief set of notes:
'Gid: hybrid of man, gargoyle, whorl, leaping insect.
Deodand: wolverine, basilisk, man.
Erb: bear, man, lank-lizard, demon,
Grue: man, ocular bat, the unusual hoon.
Leucomorph: unknown
Bazil: felinodore, man, (wasp?).'"
·        Cugel the Clever

Deodands are one of the reasons why most humans fear to walk alone in the dark. These sinister and murderous humanoid, with strong carnivorous tendencies, originated some time after the beginning of the Age of Darkness. They are strong creatures, but can be killed with offensive spells, which they fear due to some ancestral instinct.

Physical: Deodands are humanoids which look like handsome, muscular human men, but with dead black lustreless skin and long slit eyes. While they argue to the contrary, it’s impossible for other races to discern any difference between a male and a female Deodand.

Society (?!): Deodands lack what most humanoids would call a civilization or society. The natural distrustful for everything that can think (even if just barely) is the main reason why Deodands are such loners. Deodands hold together in small and insular clans only because it would be stupid to venture or sleep alone in some regions. These Deodand nests are rarely much bigger than 3 or 4 individuals.
Albeit deprived of any social structure, Deodands are not barbarians. In fact, for predators that live in the wilderness, they’re strangely aware of civilized rules of etiquette and other, baroque subjects, such as taxonomy, exquisite gastronomy or, in at least one occasion, the ecclesiastic canon of an obscure deity. Many believe that this weird mix of unpractical knowledge is proof of the artificial origin of the Deodands, maybe at the hands of an exiled archmage from a past empire. The current theories suggests a Thassilonian arcanist, devout of Zon-Kuthon and, maybe, a direct servant of the Runelord of Gluttony.

Relations: Common wisdom states that not even a morlock would trust a Deodand. And that’s entirely correct. Deodands seems totally incapable of holding themselves when the subject is (intelligent) food. However, it’s undeniable that few humanoids are as useful as wardens, henchmen and servants for arcanists, as a Deodand.
Considerably smarter and sneakier than orcs and goblinoids, a Deodand – adequately intimidated by the eldritch power of a wizard – is an extreme versatile tool. Even some orc chiefs started recently to employ Deodand (except as jailers, because of the rise of mysterious “disappearances” among prisoners) among their retinue.

Alignment and Religion: The only thing that a Deodand fears more than a wizard, are the clergy of Zon-Kuthon, the one deity that – they believe – can extinguish their race. Deodands are usually neutral evil, although an increasing number of “mad” Deodands has risen recently. These individuals are usually Chaotic Neutral (or more rarely True Neutral) and show a peculiar revulsion for human flesh (although they don’t have any problems with dwarf or elf “steak”). Seen as cursed or lepers, these mad Deodands are exiled from their nests and forced to walk among other races.
A few wizards and sages, aware of the phenomenon, speculate that mad Deodands are, perhaps, the first sign that the original dweomer responsible for creating the race – partially from human stock it seems – finally is starting to fail.

Adventurers: Deodands “adventurers” are unheard-of. When a Deodand is seen among humans, dwarves and other civilized races it is usually as a dominated monster or, more rarely, an “exile”. In fact, the Deodands use the same word for “adventurer” and “exile”.
These wandering mad Deodands are known to constantly complain about their miserable fate, forced to talk and walk side by side “with the food”, incapable of taking pleasure in “the most basic desire”.

Deodand Names: Deodand exiles adopt names among the most common race of their “peers”. They have a weird fascination for pompous and archaic names, usually followed by equally loquacious surnames. Most adventurers with a “pet Deodand” in their party ignore this and call him by a elected nickname, like Teeth, Chatterbox, Bottomless (of a particular hungry Deodand), Cat’s-eye, Silktongue, Spellscared, Nightdevil or Le Chef (a Deodand that REALLY knew how to cook).

Racial Traits:
+2 Strenght, +2 Dexterity, –2 Charisma: Deodands are strong and possess feline reflexes, but in the end are little more than predatory beasts.
Medium: Deodands are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Darkvision: Deodands can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Normal Speed: Deodands have a base speed of 30 ft.
Basilisk Blood: Deodands receive a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poisons and petrification. Once per day a Deodand can postpone the effects of one poison or petrification attack, after failing saving throw, for one hour.
Light-haters: Deodands are automatically dazzled in daylight and equivalent light sources.
Night Stalker: Deodands receive a +2 bonus on Stealth checks made underground or during the night.
Hunter of Men: Deodands receive a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks made against humans. All humans encountered by a Deodand start with an attitude of hostile. Deodands can use a feat slot to change their type to monstrous humanoid, at 3rd level.
Hunger: Deodands possess natural weapons, dealing 1d6 of damage with their bite and 1d4 with their claws. They can buy the Scent ability, as feat, at 3rd level.
Spell-dread: Deodands deeply fear arcane magic and receive a +2 racial bonus against saving throws arcane spells. The first time in an encounter that a Deodand fails a saving throw against a spell or is damaged by arcane magic, he’s automatically shaken for 1 round. However, he can use his next standard action to withdraw. If he chooses another action, this opportunity is wasted.
Languages: Deodands begin play speaking Aklo and Undercommon. Deodands with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Dwarf, Giant, Goblin, Orc, Terran and Common.

1 comment:

  1. The Deodands are one of those odd Vancian creations that are just fascinating. Nice write up.