Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sword & Sorcery Golarion - "Reskinning" Core Races (Part III)

In the third installment of Sword & Sorcery Golarion I’ll try to turn the half-orcs into something more along the lines of the works from the Great Three . Here, my first instinct was to turn half-orcs into Neanderthals, Picts or some degenerate human race; but that has been done to death I believe, so let’s try something (almost) new. Remember, the idea is to look first to the Core Race’s stats.

(reskinned Half-Orcs)

The lords of Cheliax and Taldor dismiss the tale about savage degenerated hordes and black rites honoring things from the Dark Tapestry as pitiful excuses of incompetent captains and rangers. Nonetheless, men around the lands of Varisia and Ustalav whisper that the Voormis or “beastmen” of the Hold of Belkzen where there worshipping the profane things below Mount Voormithadreth even before the Age of Darkness. An antiquarian from Magnimar claims to have found Thassilonian records that mention Voormis around the lands now called Belkzen during the apogee of Azlant and maybe before that. Some madmen, properly locked (and later burned as heretics) in Ustalav screamed that the Voormis’ barbarian demon-god, Tsathoggua, may have whispered the nefarious secrets that put the wizard-king Tar-Baphon on its path to lichdom.

The Voormis are a three-toed, umber-colored, fur-covered cave-dwelling of degenerated humans (if you believe in Absalom’s sages). Barbaric and isolationists, Voormis resist fanatically against all subjugation attempts, defending the lands around Mount Voormithadreth which a fervor equivalent to the staunchest Mendev crusaders. Until a few centuries ago the Voormis also resisted civilizing attempts (especially conversion), until a particular cunning Voormis warlord called Belkzen (legends claims that he possessed human blood) learned to forge iron and united the local tribes against foreign armies. Together with the extensive Darklands below the region and the race’s innate underground skills, Belkzen’s Hordes killed forever all domination dreams around those wastelands forsaken by the gods.

Many Voormis have mixed human blood, usually from exiled Kellid, Shoanti and even Ulfen barbarians. These mixed-bloods usually have less fur and more fingers, albeit without reducing their savagery and disturbing traditions.

Voormis’ are used as berserkers and raiders by many unscrupulous warlords.

Commentaries: At first I was going limit myself to change half-orcs to Neanderthals, but after the Gar I wanted a different take on the “degenerated human race” and Clark Ashton Smith’s Voormis were just asking to be used in my Sword & Sorcery Golarion. Not only the race has the right flavor, but also (for me) a disturbing aspect, besides being connected with the Cthulhu Mythos (and "The Seven Geases" is an amazing short story).
In game terms, I recommend forbidding Voormis’ player character from using the half-orc’s Ability Score bonus to Intelligence. I would also remove Weapon Familiarity and give them a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (Dungeoneering) and Survival.