Friday, September 16, 2011

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

Time for the dwarves. I’m going to be honest here: I don’t have a clue about what to do with these guys. The best suggestion I have seen is from Swords & Wizardry: turn dwarves into troglodytes. It’s easy and it seems to fit perfectly. However, I believe it’s a little too much for my take on Sword & Sorcery Golarion. Troglodytes make perfect antagonists for this type of setting, but I don’t think they make a good player character race.

Looking at the dwarf stats (that is what matters mostly here) we see a tough and wise race, good builders that can live finely underground (or without daylight). Something about these stats suggests a static and placid race, probably ancient. Let me see what I can do about it…

(reskinned Dwarves)

Few have seen the reclusive and aloof Anakites.  Called Mountain Lords or – more pejoratively – Half-giants, Anakites are an amazing old race. Their Sky Citadels are probably the most ancient structures built over Avistan, with the exception of the Serpentmen hidden cities. Many believe that Anakite sacred-engineers helped the Azlant built their cities and harbors.

Anakites are tall humanoids, easily reaching 7-ft., with dusk skin, curly dark hair and trimmed squared beards. Their eyes are dark and deep. Anakites rarely blink and many legends claim that they don’t sleep. They’re sky worshippers and keep their religious rites hidden from other races. Anakites are great architects and chroniclers, masters of many crafts and lost arts; many kings spend rivers of gold (or their daughters in sacrifice) to have a reclusive Watcher (one of the race’s nicknames) at its court. Anakites are the only known human race able to forge adamantine or mitral.

Anakites are distrusted by other Golarion human cultures for strange and unclear reasons. Many religions blame them for some primordial or forgotten sin or crime. Texts whispers of hordes of bloodlust half-giants descending from their mountain holds to burn, rape and desecrate old kingdoms of man, until the end of the Age of Darkness. During those dark times, some event profoundly changed Anakite civilization. Sages believe that a good part of that race died then, which may be truth as the oldest Sky Citadel (built closer to Mount Voormithadreth) was taken by the Voormis and its inhabitants savagely killed. More sinister texts hint about "Things from Above" that came and slaughtered (or abducted) the majority of the half-giants.

Common knowledge holds that Anakites worship dark things that came down from the skies, which is why they live only in the tallest mountains of Avistan. In fact, their rulers are a noble caste called the Emim (“Feared Ones” or “Pure Ones”). Emim are gaunt and taller than even Anakites and are always shrouded in silk and surrounded by a palpable aura of dread. It’s said that Anakites would be weaker “half-human breed”, servants of the “Shinning Ones”, whose Holy Spawn rule the Sky Citadels. Anakites shun daylight, their dark cities coming alive only during the night, when sinister and distant starts blaze stronger in the sky.

Commentaries: Giant or half-giant races are a classical theme of many settings and histories associated with Sword & Sorcery. They’re also sufficiently “human” to be good player characters. I added a little Biblical flavor to our lawful-militaristic Pathfinder dwarves to create an old and static society full of disturbing and dark Lovecraftian secrets.

Mechanically speaking Anakites are as long-lived as elves. Replace Small Size and Defensive Training with Powerful Build (for weapon-handling effects, CMB and CMD, Anakites are treated as Large-sized humanoids). Remove Slow and Steady. Their Hatred bonus is used now only against Voormis and troglodytes (an underground race and ancestral enemy).