Vatera setting

Vatera: An Aquatic World of Lush Savagery

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Vatera

Geography of Vatera

Sileera

Tikarum

Freyalin

The Passage of Time

Holidays on Vatera

Languages of Vatera

Places of Interest

Harphana

Xendir

Shelterra

Serpent Isle

Greyshore

Morzara

Billionaire

Obbobomo

Gobbom

Races of Vatera

Base Races

Merwen

Merwen Traits

Molthune

Molthune Traits

Nagari

Nagari Traits

Piskie

Piskie Traits

Caradin

Caradin Traits

Pleisian

Pleisian Traits

Illzara

Illzara Traits

New Races

Arvikian

Arvikian Traits

Bill

Bill Traits

Crabadar

Crabadar Traits

Grauk

Grauk Traits

Keltaur

Keltaur Traits

Tarbaku

Tarbaku Traits

Verdian

Verdian Traits

Aquatic Combat Rules

Underwater Combat

New Conditions

Spells with Saving Throws

Coastal Combat

Weapons In Aquatic Combat

Ranged Weapons

The Prone Condition

How I View Alignment

Boss Monsters

An Introduction to Vatera

The world of Vatera is a vast world of island archipelagos, drifting Zaratan lands, and a few small continents. There are dense archipelagos where a person can swim from one to the next. There are wide swaths of reefs, dense mangrove swamps, marshlands, rainforests, riverlands, lakes, and mountains riddled with flowing springs. It is lush and colorful because of the preponderance of water. This also means that the dry land tends to be peaked or hilly because that’s what was able to rise above the waves. This world is primal and savage, having recovered from a global disaster. In a very short time — in large part due to a rampant explosion of magic — animals grew, mutated, advanced, and took on wild and exotic forms. The civilizations of the past fell to ruin and decay, and were replaced with smaller-scale hunter-gatherer tribal societies.

While the world’s land masses are almost entirely made of small islands, there are a few large enough to be considered continents. The largest continent, Sileera, measures 2,000-2,500 miles across. The next largest, Tikarum and Freyalin, have about half that diameter. Much of the world is covered in water and dotted with a multitude of islands of varying sizes. Some of these islands are independent city-states on the backs of great Zaratans. Other island chains are united under a common flag. Still more are beholden to no ruler. Many islands, whether currently inhabited or not, are home to ruins from ages long past. The Black Age is a time of legend and mystery and its downfall is what led to the world of Vatera as it is today.

How did we get here?

In the Black Age, the people were different. They did not live beneath the waves, but on dry land. They did not sing to the whales or thank the rains. In those times, two great moons floated in the skies above Vatera, named Darude and Numa. It is said that the people of the Black Age — called Humans, Elves, Orcs, and other strange names — rarely saw these heavenly spheres. Black smoke choked the skies. The waters were acidic and tainted with alchemy and waste. The people of this time cut into the surface of Vatera, using her life blood to power their artifice. They crafted magic arms and armor. Great engines of destruction. Immense structures and houses of glass and iron. But all things come to an end. The people of the Black Age grew angry, greedy, and corrupt. They turned their weapons on each other and threw the world into a time of chaos and war.

This war did not end until Darude fell from the sky. The moon shattered as it came near the world, and its fragments rained down fire and fury. The surface of Vatera broke into pieces. Lands sunk. Fires burned. For a thousand years it rained destruction. The people of the Black Age died as their civilization crumbled around them. The rains combined with the moonshards and smoke, bringing change to the world. This change was felt by all the creatures of Vatera. This time of change and chaos is called the Screaming Skies.

Slowly, year after year, Vatera recovered. The old races were gone. In their place were the Merwen, Crabadar, Bills, Keltaurs, Nagari, and others. Some of those inheriting the new world were the descendants of the fallen races of the Black Age. Others were newcomers to Vatera, never seen before the Screaming Skies. Darude’s remains encircle the world, creating a glimmering ring that is visible from the surface. This ring — still called Darude — fluctuates in shifting patterns that many sages and shamans gaze into for divinations. Numa hangs alone in the heavens, casting her rose-hued light over the night realm. It has been one thousand years since the end of the Screaming Skies. The most-used calendar on Vatera says that the current year is 1142 AP (Age of Peace).

Geography of Vatera

Vatera has a vast variety of terrain and geography, from mountain peaks to coral reefs to jungle to marsh and — in rare places — desert. The world of Vatera is mostly island archipelagos and shoals of Zaratan, massive sea turtles with an island ecosystem on their back. Some have tried to memorize the islands, remembering their locations with long and intricate songs to spread word, but there are too many to be numbered.

The world has three major land masses. Sileera is a land of desert plains with coastal marshlands and branching floodplains. Tikarum is a narrow and snakelike continent dotted with mountains and jungle and dark secrets. Lastly, Freyalin is an expanse of tundras, snows, ice floes, and glaciers, with icy reefs that are home to small, hardy communities. Hidden pockets of greenery are well-guarded and protected here, usually grown around ruins from the Black Age.

Sileera

The northernmost landmass, Sileera, is almost 2,000 miles from east to west. If the world was split into quadrants, this land would be in the upper-right quadrant. It is shaped roughly like a diamond, running about 2,000 miles north to south at its widest point. The central portion of this landmass is dominated by the Silvan Sands, a large desert region currently ruled by the Pleisians, and before them by the Nagari. The reptilian nature of both races make them well adapted to handling the heat of the desert sun.

Rivers along this land boast bountiful silt beds that allow for regular farming following seasons of floods and droughts. The Pleisians are led by a fierce god-king named Khrall. He keeps court in the capital city Khrallton, praying to his draconian gods while surrounded by “remodeled” Nagari architecture. The Pleisians busily construct immense statues and dedications in the name of their king, helping him to speak with the heavens and secure his hold on the land. The majority of this work is done by Nagari slaves, who are sometimes sacrificed to bless new dedications.

The northern coast of this land is covered in dangerous mountain peaks that protect the southlands from invasion, but also offer shelter to Bills, Keltaurs, or runaway Nagari that need to hide while they work to free more. There are also moonshards to be found in the highest peaks, offering wizards a much coveted resource for crafting magical arms and armor. However, the magic of the moonshards has strange effects on the creatures near them, and beasts like oozes, mimics, and walking eyes are usually found nearby. There is no major settlement here, but a community called the Brillium Keys travels along the rivers and down to the shore, gathering goods to bring southward. Though they were originally a collection of Bill travelers, their warm nature caused others to join them and bring their weapons as well. If you need to hire a mercenary in Sileera, chances are they’ve spent some time with the Brilliums learning to fight and survive in the harsh mountain streams.

The southern shore of the continent is a vast mix of hills and marsh. The high grasses are full of crocodiles and long-legged birds. Piskies are common here as well as Merwen and Caradins, all of whom tend to live on large drifting barges of sewn together reeds and logs. The largest southern settlement is a port reef called Shimmerhome. It is not part of the Imperium of Khrall and is a neutral land for goods to come in and out of the Imperium. It is watched over by the Brightguard, an organization who oversees the comings and goings of the city and provides the militarized police, judges, and executors of law. Despite the cheerful name, Shimmerhome is a dangerous port full of dredgers, adventurers, and thieves, all of whom come here to seek relics of the past or to fense them. A common saying is that Shimmerhome is clean to sunlight but filthy under the surface.

The western coast is rocky and dangerous at the edge, with canyons and sea caves reaching deeper inland as it turns from rocky cliffs to moss-covered moors, and then drying out to desert as it reaches the salt plain of Jalea. This coast is commonly known as The Tombs because the rocky shores are made of the spires and spears of the Black Age. Officially part of the Imperium, but that is only because no one cares to object to their claim. Still, there are some hardy Molthune and Bills making a home here among the stones with a few determined Crabadar and Merwen towns dotted along the waves.

 Lastly, the eastern shore is called The Bones. For one reason or another, several Zaratans have died on this shore and their bodies have become grown over in mosses, kelps, and corals. Below the waters, they make a vibrant coral reef. And moving inland, the bones create a maze of mossy hills and slippery peaks. All this beauty hides a plague of undeath. It is said that any who die here are cursed to remain and drag others to their doom. This is only partially true, but the Crabadar and Grauks that live here in the city of Deepskull traditionally cremate their dead and send the ashes up in balloons to make sure their loved ones are not cursed to wander. Just to be safe. The other major communities living in The Bones are Sahuagin and Makora, who don’t notice the trend towards undeath because of their tendency to eat any flesh that falls in battle. Sahuagin almost exclusively stick to the seas while the Makora prever to hunt near inlets and streams because they prefer their meat cooked. Both races have their own communities and sometimes work together, until blood hits the water and then all bets are off.

Tikarum

Tikarum is a winding stretch of jungle-covered mountains that wind through ruins of the Black Age. If the world was split into quadrants, this land would be right along the equator on the left-hand side of the map. This landmass is roughly 3,000 miles from east to west, but is elongated and thin like a snake with three peninsulas, one each along the north, east, and west. The reefs have grown over the ruins and are home to a thriving Merwen kingdom known as Chandalar. Their homes occupy the old ruins or are carved into the reefs. Queen Vellnia holds court in the Rainbow Palace, a massive structure made from several species of coral grown where the sea and shore meet.

The jungles are dense and misty, home to Grauks and the occasional Tarbaku. These mountains are covered in rivers and rapids that cut sharp paths through the jungle. The jungle is full of toxic plants and dangerous beasts like land sharks, tropical harpies, and giant snails.

There are other small settlements and cities starting to have a presence along the coast, which are mostly scattered city states that need to pillage or harvest nearby islands to survive.

The northwestern region of this land is not as peaceful as the rest. It is wracked by a continual storm. This storm occasionally unearths wreckage and magical artifacts, so it is a popular spot for adventurers. The largest settlement here is Kikkskkora, founded by Crabadar and made of molded sand with subterranean tunnels and chambers. Rumors exist of an ancient creature that lurks in this stormy region, gorging itself on the fear that persists in this region.

This is the most diverse continent on Vatera as the warm waters, abundant plant life, and lack of a major central power have led many people to found towns and villages on the coast and nearby islands. Every single race can be found here, including the rare Pleisian as well as traveling Verdians and Arvikians.

Freyalin

Freyalin is located along the southern pole of Vatera. It is a vast plain of ice and snow, dotted with volcanic pools, molten peaks, and rare oases of greenery. This place is rife with geothermal activity that provides the much-needed warmth for plant life to thrive. The flora doesn’t grow as tall or vast as on Tikarum or the coasts of Sileera, but there are ferns, fungi, fruits, and medicinal herbs that can’t be grown anywhere else, despite the efforts of druids.

The Keltaurs and Molthune guard the largest pools, using the minerals to craft enchanted crystalline artifacts and arcane implements. There are ruins here too, but they are unlike those made by any of the Black Age. Those that investigate the ruins speak of strange terrors from a space beyond space. Freyalin’s icy waters are also home to a large concentration of Makora raiders, armed with strange arms and armor from the dark abyss.

At the exact pole of Freyalin there is a massive hole that emits warm air and the scent of plants. Strange sounds periodically echo upward from its depths as well. No one has yet discovered what lies at the bottom of this hole, but those that have returned from these expeditions have all been driven quite mad by the experience.

The Passage of Time

Vatera’s calendar is based on the movement of the sun around the planet. People mark out the position with stones or sticks and use that to track the current day and month of the year. The year is split into 12 months, and every group of 3 months comprises a season. The way of marking time in ascending order is moments, hours, days, spells, months, seasons, long spells, and years:

  • A moment is anything less than an hour.

  • An hour is roughly the same as on Earth.

  • A day is 24 hours and is referred to by its number in a spell.

  • A spell is 10 days and is Vatera’s equivalent to a week.

  • A month is 4 spells (40 days).

  • A season is 3 months.

  • A long spell is anything more than a season but less than a year.

  • A year is 12 months.

There is also 1 major holiday each season and 2 floating days that aren’t part of the calendar. This creates a total of 480 days in a year.

Days of the Week: Oneday, Twoday, Friday, Fourday, Qinday, Hexday, Sepday, Octday, Novaday, Spellsend.

Months of the Year: Chill Morn, Noon Chill, Chill Dusk, Blossom Morn, Noon Blossom, Blossom Dusk, Ember Morn, Noon Ember, Ember Dusk, Harvest Morn, Noon Harvest, Harvest Dusk

Holidays on Vatera

(To-do: Add more detail and edit)

Gather-Hold: Held the 2nd Spellsend of Noon Chill

This is usually the coldest part of the year. Families and communities gather together and pool supplies to last through the season until the blossoms return and food can be found more freely. In some places, gifts are exchanged. To accept a gift without giving one of equal value is a show of submission, accepting help from an outsider. In some cases, proposals are done this day, by offering a gift for which the only thing of equal value is the target's hand in marriage.

The Blooming: Held before the first Spellsend of Noon Blossom

The Blooming celebrates the return of life and color to the land. Even in tropical areas, this time of the year is marked with particularly rare and vibrant blossoms. This is when many communities hold their coming of age ceremonies because this is also when many monsters are active and hunting and mating. (edited)

Sunpeak: Held in the middle of Noon Ember

This celebrates the longest and warmest day of the year. This is a prime time for sacrifices to gods as thanks for the bounty and to ask for their protection for important events. This is a day of good luck and celebration.

Bountiful Tide: Held during the first spell of Harvest Dawn

This day marks an annual bounty that rides from the sea. Many shoals of fish and whale spawn during this time, leading to an explosion of both fish and those that prey upon fish. This is also marked by the fading of landbound plants in more temperate parts of Vatera. Some stories say that this is the day that Vatera births new creatures from her womb deep below the waves, sending new life into the world and reincarnating lost loved ones.

Darkest Night: Lasts for two consecutive days and nights in different parts of Vatera.
Two days and nights out of every year are out of sync with the natural order of things. These follow no schedule or divination that has been devised by mortal hand. At these times, black clouds fill the skies. There are no stars. There are no moons. Save for a dim red glow in the skies above, the world is cast into darkness and storms. Most people retreat deep below the waves during this time to escape the chaos of the shore. They take shelter in the deep rather than face the nightmare above. This is a time of fear, and loss, and mourning. On the third day, it snows. In most places this snow vanishes as it hits the ground, but it comes nonetheless.

Languages of Vatera

There are many languages spoken on Vatera as well as regional dialects and accents which create a rich tapestry of speech. These languages can be understood when grouped by the most common speakers of each language. While each language in a group may have differences, accents, or dialects, the meaning can be understood by anyone that speaks the language. In general all player characters begin play knowing how to speak Mer, the language associated with their race, and one other of their choice. See the traits of each race for more details.

Mer (Merwen, Keltaur, Piskie): Mer is a flowing language that is light on the tongue and very soft, with many nuances in pronunciation and meaning depending on the words around it. It is spoken by the three races that have a long history of settling together while keeping their own traditions. In relation to our languages, this is most similar to Hawaiian, Tagalog, and Polynesian.

Crackbitten (Caradin, Crabadar, Molthune): Crackbitten is a language that is quick and to the point. It combines tongue sounds and the click of shells and inner body chambers to generate meaning. Non native speakers carry a set of shell castanets to help create the sounds that they cannot make. The directness of this language is similar to English or German with added clicks, gestures, and bubbling throat sounds.

Old Tongue (Nagari, Pleisian): The Old Tongue is what was spoken in the Nagari Empire before it fell. Elders and veterans work hard to maintain the heritage of this language and teach it to their children. The Pleisians adopted the use of this tongue long ago in their history and continue to use it because it is spoken across their empire. It is a deep tongue spoken from the diaphragm. Compared to our languages, this is most similar to Xhosa (Black Panther).

Smattering (Bill, Grauk, Tarbaku): Smattering is a collection of tongues and languages from all various times and places that have formed together into a sort of coalition of languages that can be understood by anyone familiar with the tongue. This is a rich blend of languages that closely resembles any number of Native American dialects.

Deep Mer (Arvikian, Illzara): Deep Mer is an old tongue with roots deep in the Black Age. It is made of clear syllables with distinct vowel tones. While Illzaran and Arvikian are the same, the speed of speech varies greatly. This language most closely resembles a blend of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

Vatayan: The Vatayan language is a rarely understood language because of the multitude of meanings that are carried in words. Sunlight after rain is one word; the sting of salt on leaves is another; a sense of loss at seeing another have something you do not is yet another word. These precise words are not only hard to understand because of their nuance of meaning, but scents. This language is spoken by creatures that are a part of Vatera, grown rather than birthed and animated by some force from within the world itself. This language is spoken by Cindarians and Veridians.

(To-do: Ideas for more languages, including equivalents to exotic languages, so that PCs are less likely to start knowing most/all of the available ones. This might depend on first developing more monstrous races in the setting.)

Places of Interest

Aside from the main landmasses, there are countless islands on Vatera as well as many Zaratans, which are massive sea turtles that carry an island on their backs. A GM can feel free to create as many islands and island nations as they wish, but some are provided below.

Harphana

Harphana is a city on the southeastern coast of Tikarum. This city is built around and alongside a stone wall situated at the inside edge of a large, sandy lagoon. Inside this lagoon is a flourishing reef, in and upon which many houses have been built and grown. The stone wall has been carved into a forward-facing pyramid, with the tip bearing a large balcony from which King Mosha can overlook his city of about 10,000 individuals. The lagoon district, called The Shoals, are mostly residential with a few small huts and cookfires to help distribute food.

The majority of Harphana’s labor happens on the cliffs behind the great pyramid. The city needs a great deal of food, and for this reason hunters are sent into the jungle above the cliffs. The beasts the hunters kill are prepared above, so as not to draw aquatic predators down into the waters. While King Mosha is a Piskie himself, his city-state comprises a varied makeup of peoples of nearly every race on Vatera. King Mosha sees the growing needs of his people, and with his ever-increasing appetite for indulgence, he has begun sending out exploratory parties of between 15 and 50 individuals to seek out and settle new lands.

Xendir

Xendir is an archipelago of around three dozen islands located south of Tikarum. They are mostly temperate with deciduous forests and dense networks of stony rivers. These islands are small, typically with rocky shores of rounded stones and various inland lakes, ponds, and pools that provide freshwater to the fruiting trees and crops of the islands. These islands have many Bills, Crabadar, and Coral Molthune, but there are also a few scattered Nagari refugees, and even some Keltaurs who protect the inland pools.

The capital of this archipelago is Xandara, the center of the Empire of Vash. The Merwen here have a strong theocratic government that enforces the worship of their god, Vasha-ta. Vasha-ta is a vengeful and angry deity that demands regular sacrifices to appease him. While the theocracy of this land is very pervasive, its leaders rarely need to use force on their own people. The cultural pressures and mere threat of violence are usually enough to ensure that the islanders are worshippers themselves, or at least pay enough lip service to avoid notice. The Crusaders of Ta are small bands of Merwen led by a religious leader, who travel to nearby lands to gather sacrifices and tribute to appease Vasha-Ta.

Shelterra

Shelterra is a traditional fortress city for the Molthune. Atop a mountain peak stands their great cathedral called the Crystal Shell, built entirely out of abalone shells and polished to a high sheen. At high sun, the cathedral looks as bright as the sun itself and reflects a rainbow of colors. The sages of Shelterra hold council here while their hatchlings collect, organize, and decorate the various names of the Molthune people. The sages are highly respected by all Molthune, and their judgements and rulings are felt through all of their people.

The cathedral is supported by dozens of barges that surround the island. These are made on the inner curve of giant clams, mussels, and scallops. These barges are used to grow food, communicate to distant lands, hold businesses, and gather news. There are countless barges around here, some even managed by non-Molthune. Any race that respects the traditions of the Molthune may find a home here.

Serpent Isle

The Serpent Isle is the hidden refuge of the Nagari people. It is a singular volcanic island surrounded by reefs under the waves. These reefs are strange, black, pointed things that tear flesh and ship alike. The Nagari have established secret routes through these reefs, connected to a network of tunnels and caverns beneath the island. This place is a highly militarized refugee camp, with noncombatants kept safe further inside the caves and regular patrols and watches making sure no outsiders dare approach. The current head of this island is Magister Syzzlor, a Nagari Mummy who oversees the settlement. Within Serpent Isle, Nagari are taught the ancestral ways, including combat in preparation for a war to come. Syzzlor regularly sends out small squads of Nagari heroes to try to track down the rightful heir to the Nagari throne.

Greyshore

The city of Greyshore is one immense armored barge with moonshards studded into its underside to keep it afloat. Greyshore emits a continual plume of black smoke as the Cobbler Caradins work to recreate the wonders of the past. The Caradins here are eager for any remnants of the Black Age to experiment with. The Chief Engineer seeks the secret to create new metals and artifacts in the vein of Greyshore, and his team of lead researchers, the Knowledge Keepers, seek out information and resources for him with cunning and deadly determination. There are rumors that the Chief Engineer has begun using a giant horn to speak to Darude in an attempt to learn the songs of space.

Morzara

Morzara is built on and beneath the skeletal remains of an immense Zaratan. The low-ranking Illzara live along the surface where it is coldest and covered in snow, like the debris from up above. The underside of the Zaratan’s shell is lit with a dull red glow that reflects off numerous obsidian-flecked buildings and structures. The Illzara here are usually mages and commanders, preparing to raid a coastal settlement or plotting a way to bring the rest of the surface world down into the dark with them.

Billionaire

Billionaire is the only city of its kind, drifting high in the skies over Vatera on the back of a massive whale-dove. This beast drifts slowly through the air, opening its great jaws to take in clouds, birds, and smaller skyfish. It was discovered by Bills who learned how to use skyfish as mounts and even beasts of burden, fitting them with lightweight wagons and carts to carry goods into the air. The first to find the massive creature was Duckbill the Darin, who discovered it by accident when he was hunting for skyfish and got carried high into the air. As others confirmed his story, they gradually settled and slowly built a village among the thick plumage.

Today the city of Billionaire — so named because it is a Bill city in the air — has grown to around a hundred daily occupants, with many more coming and going on a regular basis. The majority of its structures are made from discarded plumage from the whale-dove itself, who has also been dubbed Billionaire and is worshipped as a deity. Billionaire makes landfall about once a year to bathe and preen itself. During this time, its inhabitants spread out to amaze and astound nearby settlements with tales of all the places they’ve flown over.

Obbobomo

Obbobomo is a Zaratan that carries a great volcano on its shell. This volcano is connected to the Plane of Fire which provides the steady flow of lava that leaks out from the peak. Ibbitalon is the lone settlement on this island, inhabited by a tribe of Grauks who clash regularly with wild bands of Blackclaw Crabadar. Ibbitalon is built around a ziggurat made of volcanic stone. The Grauks worship their island god and give annual sacrifices of whale meat. If whales cannot be found, they will become desperate enough to find other sources of sacrifice. The Blackclaw that inhabit the island also practice such rituals, but prefer to send their sacrifices into the caldera of the volcano instead of the maw of Obbobomo.

Gobbom

Gobbom is another island inhabited primarily by Grauks, with the Paleskin variety more common here than elsewhere. It’s composed of hilly forests whose pine trees hold in moisture and release it as an intoxicating mist. Both fey and undead are fond of this mist, and this island is rife with such creatures. Flickering Keltaurs dance among the will-o-wisps and shadows. The people here are skilled shipwrights thanks to the vast forests. They use these ships to patrol for supplies and merchants to “trade” with. Outsiders to this place sometimes tell of a strange song they hear each night. Natives say there is no song, only pleasant dreams.

Furthermore, the Grauks have started to uncover an ancient city on Gobbom named Orbito. For some reason, the spirits of the island don’t set foot (or being, as the case may be) within the grounds of the city. Orbito is built following a winding spiral shape like a nautilus shell. The buildings themselves are made from wood and stone, carved into graceful shapes.

Races of Vatera

For all intents and purposes, you can use the races from the Player’s Handbook. Just give them the ability to swim and breathe underwater. The Aquatic Form trait exists precisely for this purpose, and is assigned to several of the races here. However, to keep the theme of the campaign and create a more coherent world, I will not be referencing Humans, Dwarves, Elves, etc. and will be referring to their equivalent races in this setting instead. Below is a handy conversion guide that also lists the type of aquatic life or creatures they are inspired by, to help envision what they look like.

Base Race

Vateran Race

Inspiration

Base Race

Vateran Race

Inspiration

Human

Merwen

Merfolk

Tiefling

Illzara

Octopi

Dwarf

Molthune

Mollusks

Dragonborn

Pleisians

Mosasaurs & plesiosaurs

Elf

Nagari

Naga & sea snakes

Goblin

Tarbaku

Tiki statues & totem poles

Halfling

Piskie

Pufferfish & archerfish

Orc

Makora

Sharks

Gnome

Caradin

Shrimp

The people of Vatera have grown and adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle and are able to traverse land and sea with roughly equal ease. Humans, dwarves, elves, and other terrestrial races would not last here, but there are aquatic variations of forms seen on other planes. Each of the base races has an aquatic counterpart, as do many of the less common races.

There are also races found here that are not seen on other planes. The avian Bills that rule the Smoking Isles. The Keltaurs with the lower bodies of kelpies and humanoid upper bodies. The Grauks are a race of long-limbed frog people who hunt in the arboreal reaches. The Crabadar are clever crustaceans that scavenge and craft. Lastly, the savage, large-headed Tarbaku are part wooden effigy and part humanoid.

Base Races

All of these races have some ability to maneuver underwater. Some transform using the Aquatic Form trait described below. Some have a single form that’s naturally amphibious. Some can hold their breath for a long time. All races should be able to function and adventure under coastal waters, even if they can’t delve into the deep dark of the sea bottom. Each race’s statistics explain how they are able to move underwater.

Aquatic Form

As a bonus action, you transform yourself and become adapted to moving and breathing in an underwater environment. You gain the ability to breathe underwater, and you gain a swim speed equal to your base walking speed. Any items worn on the legs or feet — such as boots or anklets — meld into your new form, though they may be visible as patterns of scales or other colorations on your body. You retain the use of these items even while they are melded. While transformed, you can revert to your original form as a bonus action.

Merwen

Appearance

Merwen are merfolk with long, fishlike tails. They come in a variety of colors and patterns resembling those of koi fish. The ends of their tails taper gracefully into two long, flowing ends. Half-Nagari and Half-Makora appear more snakelike with pointed ears and delicate fingers or more sharklike with smooth lines and pointed teeth, respectively.

 Merwen from the warmer regions of Vatera have brightly-colored tails in warm tones to blend in with the vibrant corals. Their skin is commonly pale and cream-colored, but pastels aren’t uncommon. Their hair is as vibrant as their tails but kept loose and wild, decorated with trinkets and beads. Merwen found in cold waters have blue- or green-tinged skin with stark white and black tails to match the ice floes. Freshwater Merwen are the rarest kind, with thick-scaled tails in calico shades of orange, gold, white, and black like carp. Their skin commonly has similar patterns, and their eyes are deep and dark.

The Merwen of the city-state of Xandara have black-tipped tails, with primarily green and steel hues along the rest of their length. They do not tattoo their bodies, considering it a taboo to mark their skin. They keep their hair tied back and laced with sea plants and colored ribbons to denote rank or family. Their skin ranges from a deep cinnamon to a dark cocoa tone with dark hair.

Culture

Merwen are industrious in the creation of their homes. They build with bricks, woven reeds, glass, and iron. They decorate their homes with banners, family crests, and onion-shaped spires. Of all the races of Vatera, the Merwen are the most ambitious and also the most susceptible to corruption. When they set their eyes on a goal, they are willing to do nearly anything it takes to achieve it. This has led to mighty paladins and fearsome dark knights, warlords and messiahs. Freshwater Merwen are the ones most driven to uncover the ruins of the Black Age, possibly because they spend more time on land than others. The arctic Merwen wage an endless war with the Sahuagin, Makora, and strange beasts from the deep abyss below the ice. Lastly, the tropical Merwen have a strong connection to nature, tending to underwater gardens and watching over the growth of their mangrove swamps.

Homelands

The largest of the Merwen kingdoms, Xandara, is in the archipelago of Xenir. Although not strictly a homeland, they have founded a firm, militaristic theocracy focused on the worship of Vasha-Ta, the Caller of Waves. Inhabitants patrol the coasts and waterways of their lands to keep the peace and ensure that Vasha-Ta is appeased.

Adventures

Merwen adventure for the thrill of discovery and as a means to an end. The discovery of an ancient relic is valuable for the story, the prestige, the knowledge, and how all of those things can help them achieve their own goals. Because Merwen don’t have a homeland, they hold greater dedication to their jobs, friends, or organizations.

Names

Merwen names are flexible and often describe a personality trait or characteristic. If family names are used, it is given as the first name. Some prefer to only use their individual name.

Family names: Dawn, Dusk, Twilight, Glen, Fen, Reed, Loam, Wave

Personal names: Amberwave, Seacurl, Swiftswimmer, Lightsinger, Shimmereye, Goldfin, Raygill, Strongarm (My Little Pony names work too)

Merwen Traits

Merwen have the same traits as Humans with the following adjustments:

  • Aquatic Form: You have the Aquatic Form trait.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer and one other language of your choice.

Xenirian Merwen

(Optional Rule) Xenirian Merwen are a small subspecies of Merwen. They have the Variant Human traits and Aquatic Form.

Molthune

Overview

The Molthune are a hardy people with a long history of tradition, especially when it comes to crafting. Each Molthune family has a certain way they do things because their father did it and their father’s father did it and it must be good because they’re still alive to tell their kids how to do it right! Their bodies don’t switch between land and sea like many other races do, keeping a sturdy mollusk-based lower body at all times. They are able to keep themselves moist with humidity, morning dew, or the cool crunch of snow and ice. This means they tend to be found in more isolated areas away from the other races that would bother them with their ideas and different ways of doing things.

Appearance

Molthune are stocky with a dense, thick-boned, humanoid upper body and a strong mollusk’s lower half. They are about 4 feet tall with muscular arms, hairless bodies, and a sluglike lower trunk and foot. In general, the coloration of their skin and bodies varies depending on the climate they are born in. Molthune bodies are hairless except for the mens’ beards and the womens’ heads, both of which start to grow in at age 10. Their lower bodies are soft to the touch, but made of dense muscles that drag them quickly along the ground or can undulate to help them swim underwater. Molthune prefer to live in buildings of coral, shell, or smoothed stones. Their architecture tends to flow in loops and whorls that are easy to glide along.

Culture

The Molthune are respected for their rich cultural history as artists and artisans. Their skill at stone and shellwork has given rise to a long tradition of stone carving and the creation of pottery and tablets which they use to record their history with detailed pictograms. Each Molthune family has a Rite Stone, which bears the marks of their members and symbols of what they were most known for. If a Molthune is particularly accomplished, they may even be given their own Rite Stone to symbolize the formation of a new family. These stones record a family’s lives and history. If a stone runs out of space, the owners add a plinth beneath the stone and continue upon that, adding more elaborate works as they add to their family.

In addition to their stones, Molthune create delicate, lifelike stone sculptures by using their feet to smooth and polish the surfaces. It is said that a Molthune can tell more from a footprint than an elder’s song. Molthune are not a warrior race at heart, but when called to act, they can strike hard and true. A particular weapon they favor is the Longpick, which mounts a weighted pick head at the end of a long pole. The shifting balance of the pick makes it just as dangerous below water as above.

Molthune share a common love for a beverage called drakk, which is made by fermenting different grains and vegetables inside airtight containers. Most Molthune bars, mercenary groups, families, and many other groups have their own recipe and technique for making drakk.

Homelands

There are two major settlements for the Molthune on Vatera. Their ancestral capital, Shelterra, is an island fortress of shells and stone. The island is surrounded by massive shell barges which carry squat stone structures, ziggurats, and crafting areas. Shelterra is ruled by a council of sages who maintain order through the city-state and its neighboring provinces. The council is made up of the oldest members of the 7 oldest Molthune families, with 3 members chosen from houses of renown. The barges occasionally break away from the island in order to trade and gather news from other lands. The citizens of Shelterra call themselves Shellbacks and are fond of their semi-nomadic homes.

The other settlement is Godhold, on the coast of Freyalin. This place is built on the half-submerged body of a dead god, wrought with thick metal plates and covered in barnacles, lichen, frost anemones, and sea stars. The monarch of Godhold is an aged Opali Molthune named Harruk Brae. He is a retired adventurer who rose to power when he found an ancient weapon in some submerged ruins. Harruk’s twelve wives have given him thirty-four children, and it is not known which of them will one day inherit his kingdom. This has led to a quiet war of accomplishment with each son trying to gain a leg up on the other through proxy and the rare physical confrontation. Godhold is a kingdom known for its iron works which are supplied from underwater veins of ancient scrap, rumored to be tinged with magic and protected with dangerous hazards.

Adventures

When the Molthune take to the adventuring life, they do it out of a sense of ambition and duty. It is a Molthune’s duty to contribute to a great Rite Stone for their family, and hopefully to gain one of their own. They make good defenders and soldiers, and also have a talent for clerical and druidic magics.

Names

Molthune naming conventions are made up of three parts: family name, chosen name, and title. The family name is given to a Molthune at birth. The chosen name is one which a Molthune picks for themselves when their first hair grows in. Lastly, the title can change throughout their life, but it is originally their birth order. So a young Molthune would be called Harrd the First. When they get older, they could choose a name and be called Durren Harrd the First. As they adventure and gain respect, they could then be called Durren Harrd the Furious Storm. Double letters and guttural sounds are common and titles tend to be boasting in nature.

  • Family Names: Ghoota, Fhettah, Chedrah, Chorrus, Varra, Warrech

  • Chosen Names: Bokken, Barrack, Briggs, Carrach, Canndy, Chriss, Dillia, Farrah, Farris, Gorrun, Harren, Izzan, Jhainn, Kharr, Llellwen, Moccan, Noona, Ooot, Parra, Roack, Varro, Zenno

  • Titles: the Bold, the Breaker, the Drunk, the Pain in the Ass, the Crazy, the Colorful, the Slayer of Beasts, the Lord of Destruction

Molthune Traits

Molthune have the same traits as Dwarves with the following adjustments:

  • Amphibious: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can breathe both air and water.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Crackbitten, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: There are two kinds of Molthune to choose from when making a member of this race: the earth-toned Coral Molthune from warm waters and the shimmering Opali Molthune from colder regions.

Coral Molthune

Coral Molthune have skin that is brick or tumeric in hue, with lower bodies in deep purples and blacks that are accented with a bright neon tinge along the edge. Their hair is most often the color of red seaweed but many prefer to dye it.

Coral Molthune have the same traits as Hill Dwarves.

Opali Molthune

Opali Molthune have a thick lower body that looks like a clamshell covered in barnacles. Their skins are pale and their hair is dark, but their eyes have a shining opalescence that lends them their name.

Opali Molthune have the same traits as Mountain Dwarves.

Nagari

Overview

Nagari are a race of graceful serpentine people. Lithe, flexible, and intelligent, they once held control of the largest empire on Vatera. Now they have been scattered to the winds as refugees, settlers, travelers, or slaves. Nagari have a humanoid upper body, coated with a light dusting of scales to match their snakelike lower bodies that emerge when in water. Without the comfort of their once great kingdom, they’ve had to find other ways to survive in this untamed land.

Appearance

Nagari have a lithe and graceful upper body with long fingers, pointed ears, and bright, pupiless eyes. They have the ability to transform their lower halves into a long, snakelike tail. The patterns of the tail show which caste of Nagari they belong to, but such castes are remnants of an outdated time. Many Nagari have been forced into slavery under the rule of the Imperium of Khrall.

Nagari are spread widely around Vatera, and unlike many other races their coloration is not tied to their geographic location, but their place in Nagari society. This caste system is only followed by the most determined and stubborn of their kind, as the war with the Pleisians has forced them to reevaluate the old ways in order to survive. Universally, Nagari are slender and tall with flowing hair, pointed ears, and slender fingers. When they assume aquatic form, they gain long, snakelike tails. In both forms, the pattern of their caste is visible along their backs in a distinct scale pattern.

Culture

The Nagari have lost their homeland, and those that aren’t enslaved feel the sting of what was lost anytime they see the scales along their back or the eyes of their brethren. The Royal Nagari have felt this pain the most and are the ones most likely to wistfully remember the old ways. Most of the Common Nagari have found places in the world in new communities, filling in wherever they can. Rogue Nagari were alone even before the fall of their empire, and are used to working as bandits and raiders. If the rightful heir to the Concord of Scales could be found, the Nagari would have a chance to reunite their people and retake their lands.

Homelands

The Nagari empire was the largest in Vatera prior to the war with the Pleisians. This empire was called the Concord of Scales and occupied the entire continent of Sileera, along with numerous islands in the vicinity. Since the Concord’s fall, the Nagari maintain one small holding on a hidden island called Serpent Isle. This is a refuge for Nagari far from home, uniting the different groups under one banner and trying to bridge years of division.

Adventures

Nagari have many reasons for adventure, but most of them are tied to their history. Recovering lost artifacts, searching for the imperial family, upholding an ancient pledge (or grudge). Others are just trying to get by using the only means they know.

Names

Nagari names are simple. They trusted in their rank or station to serve as their introduction. They have simple names, favoring S sounds.

  • Male Names: Ssethrek, Sslicer, Elsren, Kissbet, Malakiss, Vesthra

  • Female Names: Sessarine, Celadariss, Suli, Zesshia, Messina, Kithren, Selisabeth

Nagari Traits

Nagari have the same traits as Elves with the following adjustments:

  • Aquatic Form: You have the Aquatic Form trait.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Old Tongue, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: There are four varieties of Nagari to choose from when making a member of this race: Royal Nagari, Common Nagari, Rogue Nagari, and Rusalka.

Royal Nagari

Royal Nagari can trace their lineage back to the founding families of the Serpent Kings of the Sand, three ancient kings of war that are said to have ascended to godhood and now comprise the deity called The Triune. Their skin is the color of cornsilk, with flecks of silver and gold. They have bright red scales with alternating bands of black and yellow. Their hair is usually silver or brass in color and hangs freely, but never seems to waver far from their bodies.

Royal Nagari have the same traits as High Elves.

Common Nagari

Common Nagari are the most easily found and recognized race of Nagari, as the name suggests. They made up the backbone of Nagari society as the largest segment of the population. They have tanned or deep brown skin, and their scales are alternating patterns of greens, yellows, and blacks, much like reticulated pythons or boomslangs.

Common Nagari have the same traits as Wood Elves with the following adjustments:

  • Mask of the Wild: This trait applies to reefs and sea environments.

Rogue Nagari

Rogue Nagari are those that were born outside the castes. Criminals, beggars, thieves, and laborers, they were reviled and despised in Nagari society. They’re used to living on the edges of society, and it is a twisted sort of justice seeing their former overseers brought down to their level. Some of these were never part of society to begin with and make their way as mercenaries. They have obsidian skin flecked with copper and white scales. Their hair is in shades of beaten gold, shimmering copper, and dusky brass. Their tails are covered in intricate patterns of tans, blacks, and whites, like a rattlesnake or water moccasin.

Rogue Nagari have the same traits as Dark Elves (Drow) with the following adjustments:

  • You do not have the Sunlight Sensitivity trait.

Rusalka

The Rusalka are a recently-encountered race of Nagari that live along the darkened north shore of Tikarum. Their hair ends in flickering luminescence both on land and in water. Their underwater forms have long trailing tendrils that flow from their heads and tails, tipped with glowing lights. They use these tendrils to sap vitality from their victims. Rusalka are vampiric creatures by nature, and tend to prefer live prey.

Rusalka have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Natural Glow: You are constantly under the effect of a light spell, centered on your hair.

  • Sweet Song: Rusalka are well known for their captivating voices that ring out over the shores. You can cast the cantrips friends and message once each per short or long rest.

  • Leech Life: If you start your turn while grappling another creature, you may choose to drain their vitality. You regain HP as if you spent a Hit Die during a short rest, and you deal an equal amount of damage to the target of your grapple.You can use Leech Life up to three times per long rest.

Piskie

Overview

Piskies are bright and curious people. Their upper bodies are squat and small, with nimble fingers and wide, flat feet. They can transform their lower bodies into fish, quite like those of the Merwen. Piskies have either a round, spiky body like a pufferfish or a strong, V-shaped body built to spit bolts of water like an archerfish. They are nomadic and tend to travel in family schools of 20 to 40 individuals for safety. Whether on land or below the waves, Piskies look for new ways to create art, music, and songs.

Appearance

Piskies are short, even more so than Caradins or Molthune. Their skin tones are usually black, white, or brown, and it’s not unheard of for them to have patches of other colors mixed in. Their form on land is often a clue as to which race of Piskie they are: stockier, square or oblong bodies are usually Puffers, while leaner and more wiry bodies tend to be Archers. The parentage of a given Piskie does not govern what type of body they will have. Puffer Piskies transform into a dense and pointed lower body with seemingly undersized fins. They are able to inflate themselves for defense, angling their spines outward to fend off attack. Archer Piskies have an angular, V-shaped lower half and a larger chest. They can launch an attack against land bound targets with just a jet of water.

Culture

Piskies are short, jovial, and playful, but will fiercely defend their loved ones. They are vegetarian except for the occasional mouthful of shells and rocks. They tend to travel in nomagic groups, thumping loudly on the bottom of wooden or reed boats to chase away dangerous animals. These songs are irritatingly repetitive, and even underwater the beats are easy to recognize. This is a way for Piskies to signal to each other across long distances. Most Piskies are Good-aligned, valuing the family over the self, but they have little care for law or study, preferring to leap headfirst into exciting new adventures.

Homelands

Piskies have no kingdoms of their own, but they are found all over Vatera — with the exception of Freyalin, due to a distaste for cold weather. They prefer rivers and marshes where they can float their large, slow-moving boats along the waterways. Piskies also know how to make hollow ships to follow underwater currents to the tops of mountains. It’s rumored they even have a ship that can overcome the great whirlpool at the peak of the world and venture to the center of Vatera.

Adventures

Piskies are very defensive of those they are close to. If there’s an item or discovery that can save a life, they will dive into danger to find it. They also have a simple love of adventure. Many young Piskies feel the need to get out and see the world so they grow and adapt as they travel. Many return home with new songs and stories to share with the young and inspire them to adventure as well.

Names

Piskies are fond of alliterative names because they are easier to make songs and poems from. Their first name is a family name and their second name is given by their parents. Some Piskies choose to pick a personal name for themselves that sounds impressive.

  • Family Names: Stormbolero, Bimothy, Daggins, Rilby, Jicibson, Fibbons, Brilliam, Ventin

  • Personal Names: Blaze, Lazer, Blazer, Tracer, Vent, Buble, Crest, Crash, Starviper, Sunchaser

Piskie Traits

Piskies have the same traits as Halflings with the following adjustments:

  • Aquatic Form: You have the Aquatic Form trait.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: There are two types of Piskie to choose from when making a member of this race: the swift Archer Piskie and the stout Puffer Piskie.

Archer Piskie

Archer Piskies have a narrow body with wide chests and an angular, V-shaped chest which they use to propel a jet of water. They are usually found in temperate waterways where they can put their natural water gun to the best effect.

Archer Piskies have the same traits as Lightfoot Halflings.

Puffer Piskie

Puffer Piskies are a playful and jovial breed that are found most often in warm, tropical, waters. Their bodies are rounded both off and on land. When startled, they have a habit of inflating themselves to ward off enemies.

Puffer Piskies have the same traits as Stout Halflings.

Caradin

Overview

Caradins are short in stature but long in curiosity. They collect artifacts from lost ruins, then try to craft these into something new. Caradins tend to develop an obsession over a particular skill or craft, whether it’s being the best inventor, best sculptor, best musician, or best swordsman. This obsession is paired with a tendency towards innovation in their arts, leading to irrational (some might say insane) combinations. Tomato-based fruit salads, instruments made from live fire, and sword-chucks are all examples of what a Caradin may study.

Appearance

Caradins stand about three feet tall. Their bodies are covered in dense body hair that gets thicker when it reaches their scalps. They have eyes the color of stone with slitted, catlike pupils. Caradins are often colloquially called “shrimps” by larger races in reference to their lower bodies. Their upper bodies are pale, rarely darker than the color of golden sand. Their hair is in wild rainbow hues and flows as if brushed by currents, even on dry land. The coloration of their shrimp bodies are subject to both nature and nurture — the patterns are based on those of the Caradin’s parents, while the base color of the shell depends on the place of birth.

Honorbound Caradins are found in lush, temperate waters. They have bright red shells with white spots or stripes. They have a fierce warrior tradition based on protecting the weak and upholding the law. Cobbler Caradins are found in colder regions. They have slightly longer legs with black-spotted bodies and small spines. These are the ones most interested in exploring the deeps and dredging up lost and forgotten technology. Lastly, the flamboyant Seacock Caradins tend to live in coral reefs, working as mercenaries for the highest bidder.

Culture

Caradins tend to live near Piskies because both tend to make similarly-sized buildings and have a similar tendency to ignore safety and tradition. Caradins are highly individualistic, believing that the individual can work faster and more freely than a group. They live in small family groups and tend to allow kids to venture on their own as soon as they reach maturity. This isn’t done out of a lack of caring, but because the young adult is likely to argue with his parents over inventions, creations, or beliefs and need space for himself.

There are three main families of Caradins. The Honorbound focus on honing their own talents, such as song, dance, swordplay, or magic. They travel the warm waters to absorb new styles and improve their arts. Cobblers are more interested in creations, such as scrolls, armors, weapons, and the like. These are usually found in the iron- and mineral-rich southern regions. The last family of Caradins are the Seacocks. They are flamboyant and colorful, with a shell that shines in the entire spectrum of colors.

Homelands

While most Caradins live in mixed communities with Piskies and other races, they have one land that is founded and governed by them. Greyshore is a relic from the Black Age; a great metal barge. The Caradins have managed to make it float and can move it slowly along the waves, but currently they have it anchored while they research it. This place is ostensibly led by the Chief Researcher, but many responsibilities are delegated to the Circle of Seven, his assistants that oversee the running of day-to-day matters. Each member of the Circle handles one of the following: war, food, shelter, happiness, energy, exploration, and maintenance. Greyshore welcomes outsiders that bring new knowledge and discoveries, but the inhabitants have a distrust for those that follow religious tenets because they believe it interferes with proper research.

Adventures

Caradins make for good rogues and mages, able to find an inventive way out of a hard situation. They have a strong sense of heroism and self-preservation which makes them the second person to charge into battle. Or third. But rarely the last. Those that dedicate themselves to weapons prefer to use custom-made equipment that also utilizes tools, like icepicks, battle scissors, knife-wrenches, and key-swords.

Names

Caradin naming conventions are based around tools or jobs followed by a noun or adjective. Being an individualistic society, there isn’t a custom of inherited names, but someone proud of their heritage might announce themselves as the “son of” or “descendant of” or “student of” their parent or mentor. Names are not affected by gender and are usually composed of a noun and an adjective.

  • Example Names: Bravebolt, Bladesinger, Darkraven, Edgelord, Fireblessed, Holymage, Springfast.

Caradin Traits

Caradins have the same traits as Gnomes with the following adjustments:

  • Amphibious: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can breathe both air and water.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Crackbitten, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: There are three families of Caradins to choose from when making a member of this race: Honorbound, Cobbler, and Seacock.

Honorbound Caradin

Honorbound Caradins are most easily recognized by their red shells or their brightly-colored, spiky hair. The shape of their hair is set when they reach maturity and always grows back into that shape even when cut.

Honorbound Caradins have the same traits as Forest Gnomes with the following adjustments:

  • Speak with Small Beasts: This trait also applies to aquatic animals.

Cobbler Caradin

Cobbler Caradins have deep-set eyes and pointed features as if hammered in iron. A few of their shell plates typically extend to their shoulders, jaw, or forehead, giving each one a new appearance.

Cobbler Caradins have the same traits as Rock Gnomes.

Seacock Caradin

Seacock Caradins are flamboyantly-colored with a multitude of differently-hued plates along their tails. When on land, their bodies are pale but their nails, eyes, and hair shift from one color to the next. A pair of colored antennae sprout from their forehead, setting them apart from others of their kind.

Seacock Caradins have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Pretty Lights: You can cast dancing lights twice per long rest.

  • Jettison Claw: You have a claw that functions as a natural melee weapon with the finesse and light properties and deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage. When you are underwater, you can use this weapon to make a ranged attack with a range of 30/90 feet that deals 1d4 thunder damage. You are proficient in the use of your claw.

Pleisian

Overview

Pleisians are a reptilian race of humanoids that have recently arrived on Vatera. They began appearing sometime within the last 500 years, spawned from a deity’s blood spilled in some battle fought among the rings of Darude. They are tall and muscled with scale and body shapes that show their abilities.

Appearance

There are two types of Pleisians on Vatera. The Noble Pleisians are draconic in appearance and pride, standing six feet tall with a tail that drags along the ground behind them. Their color patterns match their draconic heritage, except for having pale white undersides. They have long, flexible necks and forked tongues to smell the air. Noble Pleisians are the generals and commanders of the Imperium of Khrall. In their aquatic form, they keep the draconic upper body while their lower bodies take on a slender, predatory body like a plesiosaur.

There are also the Pleisian Brutes, who are not part of the ruling class. They have a more primal bearing, feeling a bond to crocodiles and gators. Pleisian Brutes have no breath weapon, and their scales bear a deep green to black shade. Their bodies are thicker and their jaws are more powerful than their Noble kin, so they make outstanding frontline soldiers. In their aquatic form, their legs turn into powerful flippers with a dense underbelly like a mosasaur.

Culture

500 years ago, the first Pleisians fell from the stars. They were confused and lost, but a lust for battle filled them. Together, they found a way to survive in the shadow of the mountains bordering a small oasis. The people there were weak and easy to overpower and enslave. Year by year, the Pleisians grew strong, increased their numbers, and spread outward. By the time the Nagari realized the threat coming for their capital, it was too late. The Pleisians’ breath weapons and sheer muscle were too much for the aristocrats that lived in the capital.

Pleisians are always led by a warlord who has proven themself to be a great commander. This is not always the physically strongest, but whoever shows the willingness to lead and claim glory. The current warlord is called Khrall and the Pleisians’ current empire bears his name. Khrall rules as a god-king, speaking to the god of war as his avatar on Vatera. The empire has a ruling class who oversees the command of troops, distribution of wealth, and most positions of power. Among the Noble Pleisians, the firstborn of a family is also a Noble, while any born after are Brutes. Meanwhile, a Brute only rarely gives birth to a Noble. Recently, some younger Pleisians have shown an interest in the outside world and wonder what life would be like without conquest.

Homelands

The Pleisian capital is Khrallton, located at the former Nagari capital of Sillune. The land is full of monuments carved from sandstone and granite. Khrall has put his armies to work defacing Nagari architecture and replacing it with Pleisian faces and stories. The Pleisians’ original home is somewhere in the rings of Darude overhead. Khrall claims that when they have brought glory to their god, the currents will rise up and carry them home to paradise.

Adventures

Pleisian adventurers are typically those that have broken away from Khrall’s armies. This is often because they found some artwork or stories after a battle that made them feel something for the people they had attacked. Others may have been kicked out of the army for failure to win a battle. Or perhaps they just wanted to explore. Regardless, Pleisians are prideful and don’t back down from a challenge to their skill. They make outstanding paladins and barbarians because of this determination, but a rare few prefer to study the arcane to draw on the power of their blood.

Names

Pleisian names are harsh to speak. Male names usually begin with a hard consonant sound while females begin with sibilant sounds.

  • Male Names: Charrn, Kahn, Krack, Tarro, Brakk, Trask

  • Female Names: Zara, Sobek, Serra, Sharn, Chella, Silbech

Pleisian Traits

Noble Pleisian

Noble Pleisians have the same traits as Dragonborn with the following adjustments:

  • Semi-Aquatic: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can hold your breath underwater for up to 1 hour.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Old Tongue, and one other language of your choice.

Pleisian Brute

Pleisian Brutes have the same traits as Dragonborn with the following adjustments:

  • You do not have the Breath Weapon trait.

  • Semi-Aquatic: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can hold your breath underwater for up to 1 hour.

  • Natural Camouflage: You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks to hide in marshes and swamps.

  • Big Mouth: Your bite is a natural melee weapon that deals 1d6 piercing damage. You are proficient in the use of your bite.

  • Ruthless: When you attack a creature that has no more than half of their maximum hit points, you can add your proficiency bonus to damage.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Old Tongue, and one other language of your choice.

Illzara

Overview

The Illzara are the denizens of the city-state of Valoris, which drifted along the waters on the back of a titanic Zaratan named Marla-Rahi, roughly 600 miles across. The Illazara had a vibrant culture based on literature, song, art, and worship of Darude. They were a decadent and magically-gifted people, too lost in their pleasures and studies to see the doom awaiting them. Something from the depths tore the stomach out of Marla-Rahi. Buildings crumbled and shook and the people begged for salvation. They abandoned Marla-Rahi and promised their lives to any that would save them. Something answered their prayers, transforming them into the shape they are today and allowing them to thrive on the deepest abyssal plains. They made a pact with a powerful being that claims their soul when they die, preventing them from passing to their rightful afterlife. The Illzara managed to build a new home at the bottom of the Black Abyss, near a network of geothermal rifts. They are cunning and prone to anger.

Appearance

Illzara have the upper body of a humanoid that resembles Merwen or Nagari, with a singular horn sprouting from their forehead and tipped with a glowing bulb. Their lower body has the sprawling tentacles of an octopus, which bind together tightly to function as legs while on land. Their skin ranges from maroon to violet, with tentacles of deep black. Their horns and the tips of their tentacles can glow in the deeps to confuse targets. Their eyes never match in shade and can be seen glowing in the dark.

Rarely seen, the Blue-ringed Illzara live near warm tropical waters. They are the descendants of those who were not on Marla-Rahi when it fell. They have pale skin that is sometimes tinged yellow. Their hair is usually brown with patterns of blue rings, and their tentacles have the same blue markings on them as well. They are often treated with fear and suspicion because they are said to be toxic to the touch. They are usually found in coastal communities or brackish waters found farther inland in natural pools or marshes, following the old religion of the

Stormy Illzara are those that have survived being struck by lightning, were born during a storm, recognized by a god with a connection to lightning, or in some cases just born with a special calling and connection to the clouds. They feel a deep elemental connection to clouds, skies, storms, and especially lightning. Stormy Illzara are easily spotted by the jagged white markings along their tentacles, their bright white eyes, the way their hair stands on end, and the gentle static shock that occurs when they touch someone.

Culture

The Illzara have a caste system with a high degree of mobility. They have one hundred ranks, with their king at the top and everyone else beneath them. Each rank holds a title rather than a number, though scholars find it easier to represent these as rank 1 to 100. An Illzara must display their rank openly, and most high-ranking Illzara choose to wear fancy clothing to make their rank stand out even more. This caste system allows the society to function as higher-ranked ones set up businesses and establishments, showing off their position and place in the world while supporting those under them. In turn, the lower-ranked members of society are motivated to ascend higher and higher.

An Illzara rises in rank through a series of personal challenges. A lower rank may challenge someone above them in a contest of skill that is agreed on by both parties. If the higher rank wins, they retain their standing and send their challenger to an even lower rank. If the lower rank wins, they ascend in standing equivalent to how far the higher rank was willing to risk descending.

Homelands

The center of Illzara civilization is the city of Morzara, in the center of the Abyssal Sea. The shell of Marla-Rahi fell over a series of volcanic vents. The Illzara have learned to harness this heat for power and in many of their creations. They use the stones and calcium deposits around their city to make a sort of cement, in order to form large underwater structures.

Adventures

Illzara are difficult to get along with. They are not used to being close to people, and tend to react to common gestures with hostility and anger, such as mistaking eye contact for a challenge. They prefer to be in charge, and they are blunt in making their opinions well-known. They will refuse to work for someone that doesn’t impress them in some way. They make good bards and sorcerers for magic flows easily through them and — despite their rough exterior — they possess an unspoken magnetism.

Names

Illzara names are usually alterations of Nagari or Merwen names, which were the basis of their original society.

Illzara Traits

Illzara

Illzara have the same traits as Tieflings with the following adjustments:

  • You do not have the Hellish Resistance trait.

  • Amphibious: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can breathe both air and water.

  • Multiple Arms: You can hold and manipulate up to two additional tools or weapons at a time. These arms cannot be used to wield shields or two-handed weapons.

  • Abyssal Resistance: You have resistance to cold damage.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Deep Mer, and one other language of your choice.

Blue-ringed Illzara

Blue-ringed Illzara have the same traits as Tieflings with the following adjustments:

  • You do not have the Hellish Resistance or Infernal Legacy traits.

  • Amphibious: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can breathe both air and water.

  • Multiple Arms: You can hold and manipulate up to two additional tools or weapons at a time. These arms cannot be used to wield shields or two-handed weapons.

  • Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.

  • Ancestral Legacy: You know the poison spray cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the ray of sickness spell once per long rest as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reach 5th level, you can also cast the burning hands spell once per long rest as a 3rd-level spell that deals poison damage instead of fire damage. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Deep Mer, and one other language of your choice.

Stormy Illzara

Stormy Illzara have the same traits as Tieflings with the following adjustments:

  • You do not have the Hellish Resistance or Infernal Legacy traits.

  • Amphibious: You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. You can breathe both air and water.

  • Multiple Arms: You can hold and manipulate up to two additional tools or weapons at a time. These arms cannot be used to wield shields or two-handed weapons.

  • Celestial Resistance: You have resistance to lightning damage.

  • Stormy Legacy: You know the shocking grasp cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the fog cloud spell once per long rest as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reach 5th level, you can also cast the scorching ray spell once per long rest as a 3rd-level spell that deals lightning damage instead of fire damage. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Deep Mer, and one other language of your choice.

New Races

The following races are not modified from any already-published races. As with the base races, these races have traits adapted to semi-aquatic or fully aquatic lifestyles.

Arvikian

Overview

Arvikians are a large race of walking whales. They have a thick, broad head that seems to also encompass the neck, shoulders, and part of their chest. They have thick arms set where other races consider shoulders to be. Their strong legs fit snugly against their long heavy tails, which drag along the ground behind them. Neither whale nor Merwen, Arvikians are something in between. They are logical thinkers and prefer tradition to novelty. They are very long-lived and pass on an oral history of the distant past, supplemented with ancient carvings and ruins that they keep safe below the waves.

There are three castes of Arvikians, each with a role to play in the community. Stalkers are the protectors of the schools, roaming far and keeping an eye and ear out for danger. The Cephalo are the keepers of stories and tradition, usually given the task to lead their people. Lastly, the Horned Arvikians have a deeper spiritual connection to the waters of Vatera, able to feel its currents and feelings more keenly than most. They make outstanding spiritualists and diplomats to other races.

Appearance

Arvikians appear as eight-foot-tall bipeds, but to call them humanoid does not do their form justice. The shape of their heads are closest to those of toothed whales, with a wide, flat forehead and an elongated jaw lined with conical teeth. These heads are massive and seem to be too large for the body that supports them, but they have the muscle and bone structure to support it.

Arvikians have a dorsal fin along their back and a wide, flat tail to reinforce their cetacean nature. Their feet end in flippers which they hold against their tail in the water, enabling them to turn faster than full whales while allowing them to power their flat-headed bodies forward. Their arms end in massive hands with two fingers and a single thumb, capable of wielding immense weapons and striking foes with superior reach.

Culture

Arvikians are a disparate people that prefer to live in deep sea caverns with pockets of air rather than to build settlements of land. Their carvings and legends are some of the oldest records of the Screaming Skies and the Black Age. They see themselves as the guardians of the deep, tasked to keep a great evil from returning to the world. They aren’t sure what this great evil is, but they call it Fernuch. They believe Fernuch is trying to end the world and that the tragedies of the past were just precursors to what he is to bring about next.

As a people, Arvikians are very isolationist, keeping in small pods of less than ten, raising young, migrating from cavern to cavern, leaving etchings along the walls to let others know what they have witnessed. Occasionally, a pod will come ashore bringing trinkets to trade for information or supplies, but only during emergencies or other matters of great importance. If a member of their pod is found guilty of contacting the surface or disobeying the pod’s laws, the punishment is exile.

Songs are important to the Arvikians, just as with many other races. They sing together as they swim, letting their songs travel to distant islands and hearing what returns to them. These echoes inform the pod’s elders where to go.

The Arvikians have one enemy in the ocean, and they are the Illzara. The two races clash often as both are known to frequent the dark depths. The Arvikian despise the Illzara’s corrupting influence and their hunt for things from The Black Age. Likewise, the Illzara despise the Arvikians for keeping knowledge out of their grasp.

Homelands

As a nomadic people, Arvikians don’t have cities or nations of their own. But every ten years they gather beneath the eye of the storm near Tikarum. Here lies an ancient city called The Lost City. The true name of this place is forbidden to be spoken out loud. Here the Arvikians mourn those they have lost and sing of what they have seen. If there is a particularly grave crisis, the different pods will gather here to discuss the possibility of war.

Names

Arvikian names are long and meant to carry over long distances. When speaking to people on land, they are usually given a nickname that is shorter. Thes following examples are abbreviated forms of names, but in their natural tongue, they take at least 15 seconds from start to finish. Each vowel takes about 8 seconds and each consonant hums for five, except for the ‘ch’ sound which is a deep click that reverberates between notes.

  • Example Names: Mao, Boa, Hoo, Moo, Gam, Bru, Doom, Chooch, Chaa, Aachoo

Arvikian Traits

All Arvikians have the following traits, developed over multiple generations of traveling the farthest reaches of the ocean:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 2.

  • Age: Arvikians reach maturity at 20 years of age and can live up to 500 years. They are few in number, slow to breed, and very long-lived.

  • Size: Arvikians are at least 8 feet tall. Your size is Medium.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 20 feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor or using the variant encumbrance rules.

  • Deep Breathing: You can hold your breath underwater for 24 hours.

  • Massive Size: When you make a melee attack for the first time during your turn, you may choose to add 5 feet to your reach without using a weapon with the reach trait. If you do so, you cannot make opportunity attacks until the start of your next turn.

  • Racial Memory: You have proficiency in one of the following skills: History, Religion, or Arcana. You have advantage on ability checks using this skill as long as it is related to ruins and artifacts.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Deep Mer, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Stalker, Cephalo, or Horned Arvikian.

Stalker Arvikian

Stalker Arvikians have black upper bodies with cream white lower bodies, very much like orcas. They are adapted at hunting and pursuit of their targets. They are considered the warriors of Arvikian culture.

Stalker Arvikians have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

  • Hunter: When you attack a creature that has no more than half of their maximum hit points, you can add a d6 to the damage dice.

Cephalo Arvikian

Cephalo Arvikians have the largest bodies of all Arvikians, with a large, flat, squarish forehead. Their bodies are pale white like sperm whales. They are usually historians and leaders among their pods.

Cephalo Arvikians have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

  • Headbutt: Cephalo Arvikians use their massive heads to force enemies off-balance during combat. As a bonus action, you target a creature that is within your reach. That creature must make a Strength saving throw with DC equal to 10 + your Strength modifier or be knocked prone. After you perform a headbutt, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Horned Arvikian

Horned Arvikians have mottled grey and white bodies with an immense 4 foot horn protruding from their foreheads, reminiscent of narwhals. They usually act as spiritual advisors and diplomats.

Horned Arvikians have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Spirit Warden: Horned Arvikians are particularly versed in beliefs relating to the spirits of the dead and the afterlife. You have advantage on saving throws against spells and other effects from undead creatures.

Bill

Overview

Bills are Avian humanoids native to Vatera. Their numbers have risen since the age of the Screaming Skies, because the air is cleaner and there are no other flying civilizations to compete with. While an individual Bill can’t fly long distances under their own power, they can jump and glide quite far. They also have managed to reconstruct simple flying machines to travel from island to island. Bills are boastful, outspoken, and dramatic. They collect stories from around Vatera and are usually able to earn food and lodging by bringing news or stories of the outside world.

Appearance

Bills stand roughly six feet tall at the shoulder with broad arms that reach to their ankles and a wide chest. They are generally white and grey, but browns, blacks, and yellowish hues are not unheard of. Some rare few have bright plumage like a parrot. They keep their feathers carefully maintained, even under armor and weapons. Each Bill belongs to a particular subgroup based on the shape and size of their bill.

Culture

Bills love cities and towns. They enjoy the noise and the activity. They tend to jump around their homes, questioning people, delivering messages, picking pockets, and using their brains to make a living. They are more likely to be scholars than warriors, but only the old and infirm would have time to manage running a library or mage tower. Bills have a hard time admitting wrongdoing, and are very boastful of their own skill and knowledge. They prefer a battle of wits to a battle of blades.

Homelands

Bills can be found in any metropolis: they are craftsmen and tailors in Khrallton, or carvers in Greyshore, and make sure to wear their personal style wherever else they travel. Bills have one homeland that is theirs and theirs alone. The floating city of Billionaire moves over warm lands, drifting with the breeze. It’s kept aloft by a massive balloon and a series of propellers powered by moonshards. Bills are the only ones that have mastered the ability to make flying devices, so the population of Billionaire is roughly 90% Bills and 10% guests of other races. The ruler of Billionaire is Mayor Billiam Bixby Billson the Third. He keeps some semblance of order in terms of stopping violent crime, but his laws also include such directives as what times of day shirts are allowed to be worn, when it is opposite day, and no cheese allowed after sundown.

Adventures

Bills are outstanding fencers, bards, and mages. They have a flair for the dramatic and will dramatically rise to the occasion to support their teammates in the loudest way possible. In the search for new boasts, they will scour the world for ancient ruins, lost treasure, and lovely maidens.

Names

Bill names are chosen at birth, usually by a respected elder or spiritual leader. They look at the potential of the young Bill and choose a name for them to grow into. This name is usually taken from one of the mighty heroes of old, such as Bill the Flyer, Storkken the Loud, or Ravenna Blackwing. They tend to include a portion of the bird they take after with a bold declaration.

  • Male Names: Bill, Duckson, Ravenos, Stokken, Touken, Peil, Parron

  • Female Names: Ravenna, Billini, Gullivera, Dove, Wrenny

Bill Traits

All Bills have the following traits, their species refined by successful ventures abroad:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 2.

  • Age: Bills age at a slightly faster rate than humans do. A newly-hatched Bill is similar to a human toddler. They reach maturity at 10 years of age and live about as long as a human.

  • Size: A Bill stands between 5 and 6 feet tall on average. The shortest of their kind is around 4-1/2 feet while the tallest Bills reach 7 feet tall. Your size is Medium.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet.

  • Deep Breathing: You can hold your breath underwater for 1 hour.

  • Flap: You automatically take the minimum possible falling damage at the end of a fall. As long as you are not incapacitated or restrained, you can move 2 feet horizontally for each foot you fall.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Smattering, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Fisherbill, Flatbill, or Pocketbill.

Fisherbill

Fisherbills have long, pointed bills that can be used for jabbing and poking, while their bodies are also more lithe and limber than other Bills.

Fisherbills have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Display of Panache: You have advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks made on land.

Flatbill

Flatbills have a broad bill and a small, sleek body that is suited to avoiding notice. They also have a keen sense of direction and awareness of the natural world.

Flatbills have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

  • Natural Coloration: You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when blending in with natural landforms.

Pocketbill

Pocketbills have a long pouch that hangs below their bill and reaches to the upper part of their chest. Their bodies are dense and thick compared to other Bills. They can use their “pocket” to hold up to a cubic foot of items. Stowing or removing an item requires an object interaction.

Pocketbills have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

  • Yoink: You have advantage on Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks. When you make such a check to grab an object without being noticed, you can use a bonus action to immediately stow the object in your bill pouch.

Cindrians

Overview

Cindarians are a race of soft bodied jellylike creatures that have grown out of aquatic stones, shells, and minerals on vatera. Cindarians tend to grow in small colonies of 5 to 10 at first before they break apart one by one into independent creatures. Usually, they each belong to the same subrace, but this is not always true. A Cindarian colony starts when a moonstone embeds itself into a piece of living stone such as coral, shells, or even whalebone. Over time, the embedded substance draws out the magic of the stone and this begins to impart consciousness into the area around it. This is called budding and can take over a hundred years to be completed. Over this time, the Cindarians draw in knowledge and wisdom from the waves and waters of vatera, forming a sense of self and purpose. When a Cindarian breaks away from its colony, it may choose to remain and tend to the area in which it was grown. Or, it may set out to complete its purpose. The purpose is what drives all cindarians and they are relentless in its pursuit.

Appearance

Culture

Homelands

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 2.

  • Age: Cindrians are slow to age but long lived. They are considered adults after 100 years of growth and the oldest are nearing 500 years of age. 

  • Size: Cindrians  average around 6 feet tall with oddly proportioned bodies that may add up to an additional 12 inches..

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 20feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet.

  • Amphibious: Cindrians may breathe equally well underwater and in the air..

  • Sensitive Mind: Cindrians have a very sensitive psyche. They are vulnerable to psychic damage.

  • Tactile Body: A Cindrian’s body is covered in multiple tactile nodes that detect pressure, temperature, air currents, and even magnetism. Cindrians have advantage on Perception and Investigation rolls made to find hidden creatures and objects.  

  • The Body Remembers: : Cindrians are a resilient people, due in no small part to their natural healing abilities. During their turn, a Cindrians may use a bonus action to gain Hp equal to their proficiency modifier. After using this ability, roll a d6. If the result is even, they immediately regain the use of this ability. This immediately activates when a Cindrian is dying, but only if it is available. 

  • Languages: You can speak Mer and Vatayan.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: : Scyphons, Corralians, Merrowars

Scyphons

Scyphons are the most flexible of the Cindarians. Their bodies are brightly colored and blend in easily with tropical corals. Their soft bodies are covered in shifting plates of stone and shell that create different interlocking designs depending on their moods. One thing they have that sets them apart from other Cindarians are the four writhing tentacles that sprout from holes along the backside of their bodies. These tentacles pulse with life and a faint psychic energy which can be used to hurt and understand their opponents.

Scyphons have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your intelligence score increases by 1.

  • Psychic Tentacles: A Scyphon’s tentacles can be used as a natural weapon attack. You may choose to attack with either your strength or your intelligence modifier for attacks and damage. They deal 1d6 damage and have. When you strike a creature you may force them to make a Wisdom Saving Throw DC 10+your Intelligence Modifier. If they fail, they  are stunned until the start of your next turn. In addition to this, they are subjected to the Detect Thoughts spell for one minute, even after the stun ends. After using this ability, you must complete a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Coralians

Corallians are found in a variety of places. They may be found along frozen shores clinging to rocks, looking after coastal tide pools, or in mixed communities with other Cindrians, usually as guards or defenders. Their bodies are almost entirely covered in stony plates of shell, except for their faces, which are a bright single hued sort of jelly like material. 

Corallians have the following traits.:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

  • Natural Armor: You may choose to have your AC be equal to 13 + their dexterity modifier. 

Merrows

Merrows are the most flexible and lightly shelled of the Cindrians.  Their bodies are tinged with greens, violets, and blues with many fragments and parts of shell, detritus, and stone floating inside their body. They are strong and durable but that’s not their true strength. Their true strength is that being so flexible has allowed them to defend from all angles at once, shifting their sight and form around as needed.

Merrows have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength increases by 1. 

  • Jelly-Body: As long as you are able to take reactions, you do not grant advantage to attackers.

Crabadar

Overview

The Crabadar are a race of crab people that live along the coasts and rivers of Vatera. They are easily spotted by their large shells and prominent claws. They often decorate and cover their shells with inks and carvings, very much like tattoos. They are cunning craftspeople and bold defenders of their secrets. Crabadar villages are usually built near wrecks and cities from the Black Age. Though Crabadar are clever inventors, they do not want their knowledge of past civilizations to be shared with all, and guard their secrets devoutly like a priest would guard a sacred scripture.

Appearance

Crabadar stand between 4 and 7 feet tall. They walk on a set of four legs and have one pair of hands that can be used to manipulate tools and objects, as well as a separate pair of claws. Their thick exoskeleton helps protect them from blows, and their claws are useful for defense. Despite their animalistic appearance, they are highly intelligent. They’d sooner craft than claw, and often spend days patrolling near their homes to collect shells, ancient masonry, and shiny objects. They even use their old, molted shells to make armor and weapons, saving the best pieces to show the accomplishments they treasure most.

Culture

Crabadar are semi-nomadic, traveling along riverbanks and coasts to collect scraps and trinkets to bring back home. Back at home, they use their discoveries in craft projects. They love things that move and make noise such as windmills, mobiles, and weapons. They utilize otherwise-lost methods of construction in their creations which are kept highly guarded. A Crabadar will defend their family’s secret to the death.

A Crabadar’s family group is called a clutch. A clutch consists of two generations of young laid by a single mother, so this is three generations in human terms. The fourth generation is special, and is called the Foundling Clutch. The Crabadar in this clutch will compete up through adulthood until they are old enough to mate. At this point, the strongest and smartest among them is given the right to form the next clutch. Those who are not chosen to begin a clutch drink a concoction of herbs that forbids them from breeding, and they are outcast from their old friends and family to find their own way in the world.

Homelands

Crabadar prefer temperate areas that have flowing water, and establish settlements around some sort of relic, monument, or ruin of the Black Age. The materials left behind in nooks and crannies left behind give them plenty of things to work with and protect.

One of these homelands is in the stormy region of Tikarum. Kikkskkora is built over the ruins of a Black Age city that was buried under sediment and rocks. The Blackclaw Crabadar are in the process of excavating this area, digging massive tunnels and working an immense forge. This forge is a relic of the Black Age and is protected by the Overseer, a gigantic crab with an iron shell. The Crabadar that work the forge are capable of making magic items without the use of moonshards, but the items they create are always wreathed with shadows that seem to absorb light from whatever room they are in. Even they aren’t sure how it works. All they know is rocks, sacrifices, and other things go in, and then useful items come out following the idea of the maker.

Their other main settlement is in Freyalin, located near the center of the southern pole. There is a massive hole here, 500 miles across. Air flows out of this hole, carrying a mist laden with seeds and organic matter. This mist warms the immediate area, resulting in a dense, moss-covered plantscape. This place is watched over by bulky, white, furred Crabadar called Sheti. Every year at the solstice, a lunar eclipse occurs, causing the hole to emit a soft purple light that causes plants to spring to life instantly.

Adventures

Crabadar adventure out of a sense of duty and protection. They seek to defend the secrets of the past from those that would use them wrongly. They also love to collect things for themselves and their own secrets. However, the most common reason for a Crabadar to set out into danger is to become a Clutchmother — or Clutchfather.

Names

Crabadar names are hard to pronounce for most tongues, often including nonverbal sounds in their native language. As such, Crabadar tend to abbreviate their names when dealing with other races.

To make a Crabadar name, select 3-4 sound effects from the table below, then place the translated sounds in order.

Sound

Trans.

Sound

Trans.

Sound

Trans.

click

“ki”

clack

“ka”

bubble

“gu”

claw snap

“can”

chirp

“chu”

hiss

“ss”

growl

“roo”

soft snap

“mi”

low whistle

“eer”

high whistle

“ree”

blink

“bip”

pop bubble

“hoo”

Crabadar Traits

Crabadar have the following traits, developed as their kind cloister in their sheltered communities:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 2.

  • Age: Crabadar age rapidly from birth, reaching maturity in 2 years on average. A Crabadar of 20 years is equivalent to a human reaching 80 years old.

  • Size: Crabadar have a wide variance in height and bulk, similar to the range between humans, dwarves, and elves. Your size is Medium.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet.

  • Claw: You have a claw that functions as a natural melee weapon with the light property and deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage. You are proficient in the use of your claw, and you can use it for two-weapon fighting as long as you are not wielding a shield.

  • Natural Armor: You may choose to have your AC be equal to 13 + your Dexterity modifier.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Crackbitten, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Decorator, Blackclaw, or Forest Crab.

Decorator

Decorators tend to collect found objects and attach them to their shell using a natural adhesive. Their shells are brightly-colored and often striped or spotted. A keen eye can tell where they’re from based on the patterns of their shell. Decorators don’t have the impressive claws like their brethren, but they make up for it with cunning and weapon skill.

Decorators have the following traits:

  • You do not have the Claw trait.

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

  • Handsy: Instead of a pair of claws, you have a second pair of delicate hands that can hold objects. You may wield a weapon that has the versatile quality with two hands even while you are holding another weapon, shield, or item.

Blackclaw

Blackclaws hail from a tribe of Crabadar that was blessed by a god of flame in ages past. They have dark markings along their shell that resemble scorch marks, and the tips of their claws are obsidian black. All Blackclaws retain some semblance of this ancient heritage in their blood, even if its origin is long-forgotten.

Blackclaws have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Igneous Resistance: You have resistance to fire damage.

Forest Crab

Despite the name, Forest Crabs make their homes in a multitude of land-based climates. They prefer jungles and misty mountains where they can stay moist by basking in the natural rains and fogs. They are bulky and slow-moving, and tend to pursue goals with a one-track mind.

Forest Crabs have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

  • Single-Minded: Each time you finish a long rest, pick a skill. You have advantage on checks using that skill outside of combat. At the same time, you have disadvantage on two other skills of the DM’s choice.

Grauk

Overview

The Grauks are a race of amphibious humanoids. They are long-limbed and sprightly, resembling any number of different frog species, though cane toads, poison dart frogs, and pond frogs are the most apparent. They are able to move between air and water easily, but cannot stay underwater indefinitely. Grauks are descended from Grippali, Bullywug, and Grung.

Appearance

Grauks stand roughly three feet with a bulbous body and long, limber, arms and legs. Each limb ends in 4 digits. Grauks are covered in a dampness that pervades them from head to toe, giving them a slightly off-putting sheen that keeps their skin from drying out. Their long tongues are able to reach to the top of their heads and are useful for holding onto things, but not for fighting. One of the Grauks’ most prominent features, and the one that gives them their name, are the large air sacs under their chin. These are capable of inflating and producing a series of deep bellowing croaks which are said to sound like “grauk.”

Culture

Whether by choice or circumstance, Grauks always seem to be on the edges of society. They often live in the alleys or trash of a large city. In more wild areas, they end up on the outskirts of town or living in isolated ponds of freshwater. They are often accused of being liars, thieves, or raiders, which is an opinion that Grauks work very hard to dissuade people from.

The Grauks’ knowledge of herbs, medicines, and poultices is quite effective. Despite this, they frequently make their way in the world by being cheats, bandits, or privateers. They are skilled in deception, and their nimble limbs make them excellent at running away. A common Grauk saying is, “Neener neener neener, you can’t catch me!” This is typically followed by, “Help! They caught me!”

Grauks do not have a mother and father the way most races do. Tadpoles are raised in communal breeding pools. For the first two years after hatching, the adults take turns teaching them, speaking to them, feeding them, etc. When the tadpoles become able to walk on dry land, they choose the Ooma of their choice. “Ooma” is a gender-neutral term that translates to “teacher” in the common tongue. The Ooma will look after the child the majority of the time, making sure they get instruction on language (i.e. lying), physical education (i.e. stealing), and self defense (i.e. running away). Once a Grauk matures into an adult, they are given three coins, a shirt, and a half a sandwich before being sent off on their own.

Homelands

Grauks tend to live in areas of heavy rainfall with access to a steady supply of freshwater. While they are able to tolerate saltwater, they cannot breathe underwater, so they prefer jungles, misty woods, and swamps. They have several small villages spread across the various places of Vatera that welcome travelers. The most well-known of these are Ibbitalon and Orbito.

Ibbitalon is in the jungle-laden mountains of Obbobomo, which is an island on the back of a Zaratan. The Grauks of this island know that the island must feed, and every two years they hunt and sacrifice a large whale — or its equivalent in other sources of meat.

Orbito is located in a mist-shrouded island named Gobbom. The island’s pine forests are feared by many because of the common sightings of ghosts and other malevolent spirits. Grauk shamans and mystics have learned to keep these spirits at bay long enough to set up a safe haven. The Grauks here are unparalleled ship builders, able to make a massive galleon about once a year. Why have ships when everyone can swim? Because ships are better for moving cargo between islands and bringing it back home to place before altars inside ancient jungle temples.

Adventures

Grauks have a knack — or curse — for getting into trouble. They tend to work as treasure hunters, pirates, or bounty hunters, and their nimble limbs make them great explorers. They are not great at making friends with other races. They are not one to dive into danger. But then again, they don’t think that ruins and caves are dangerous, but as dens of treasure waiting to be uncovered.

Names

Grauk names are made of short syllables, usually repeated. When they inflate their neck sacs, they can bellow these names over great distances. A Grauk receives their name within their first year since birth, based on the first sounds they make.

  • Example Names: Mojomo, Domorodo, Goboroko, Rakafaka, Likolika, Wilikili, Hikiki, Bagogaba

Grauk Traits

All Grauk have the following traits, indicative of their swift and dexterous bodies:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

  • Age: Grauks reach maturity at 10 years of age and may live up to 60.

  • Size: Grauk average around 3 feet tall. Your size is Small.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet, and you have a swim speed of 30 feet.

  • Deep Breathing: You can hold your breath underwater for 1 hour.

  • Nimble: You have advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks to jump, and you are always treated as having a running start.

  • Prehensile Tongue: Your tongue can hold a single one-handed object weighing no more than 5 pounds. You can lash your tongue to reach small items up to 15 feet away, and your DM may permit other creative uses such as using it as a rope. In general, your tongue is as versatile as the mage hand cantrip, except limited to 15 feet away.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Smattering, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Brightskin, Leatherskin, or Paleskin Grauk.

Brightskin Grauk

Brightskin Grauks are native to humid jungle environments and trade frequently with Dazzler Keltaurs. They have a toxin that they use to coat their weapons. They also have a deep connection to the land around them from their time spent in the trees.

Brightskin Grauks have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

  • Natural Toxin: You secrete a natural toxin which you can use to coat weapons if given time. When you are struck by a melee attack that is not a manufactured weapon or a spell, you may spend your reaction to spread your poison onto the attacking creature. That creature must make a Constitution saving throw with DC equal to 8 + one half your level. On a failure, the creature’s speed is reduced by half, and during their turn they can only move or take an action, but not both. This effect ends at the end of their next turn.

Leatherskin Grauk

A Leatherskin Grauk is thick and heavyset like a toad with a deep, resonant voice. They make stout guards and warriors.

Leatherskin Grauks have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

  • Thick Skin: When you are hit by an attack, you may spend your reaction to reduce the damage taken by an amount equal to your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Paleskin Grauk

Paleskin Grauks have been touched by the spirits of their ancestors. They have a white or pink skin tone with bright blue or green eyes. They have an otherworldly awareness and innate spellcasting abilities.

Paleskin Grauks have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

  • Natural Casting: You may cast detect poison and disease, message, and minor illusion once each per long rest. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Keltaur

Overview

Keltaurs are defenders of the feytouched places of the world. They have the humanoid upper body of a Merwen or Nagari and the lower body of a kelpie, which resembles a horse but better adapted for the water.

Appearance

Keltaurs are born when a kelpie pairs with a humanoid companion or as the offspring of two other Keltaurs. Their upper body is mostly humanoid with a larger-than-average forehead, thick midsection, and furry, pointed ears that flicker like a horse’s. The lower half is that of a graceful pony in a pastel or sea-toned shade. When a Keltaur enters into an aquatic environment, their rear legs transform into a colorful, muscled whale’s tail to propel them through the water.

Culture

When a Keltaur is born, it is celebrated with music and wine. Keltaur are touched by the fey and are joyful, musical, and sprightly. They dance when there is music. They weep to tragic poetry. They roar with the fervor of battle. They are deeply connected to the natural places of Vatera, and as a result they avoid the homes of Caradins, Bills, and Pleisians. They move swiftly over land and sea, feeling the currents over their scales and the wind in their manes. Keltaurs are a confusing race, able to go from laughter to murder with only a breath in between, living in the moment.

Keltaurs live in family groups of about twenty. In areas with lots of them, this is more like an individual gang or community. In areas with few of their kind, this may be all they know. To show their allegiance, they receive a branding on their hindquarters when they are old enough to run, typically around two years of age. In communities where battle is a way of life, this mark is done with fire to instill bravery. In more peaceful areas, it is a permanent arcane mark. This mark consists of a clan symbol, such as a bolt, wave, tree, or fish with a color or other flourish to represent the individual.

Homelands

Keltaurs are creatures of the wild, and as such, they have few buildings or structures of their own. When living in mixed communities, they prefer places that are free from mechanical creations and the poisons of the Black Age. Keltaurs do have two places that are a sort of home to their kind. One of these is at Vatera’s northern pole, beneath the ice. It is an inverted palace carved into an iceberg, known as the Fortress of Solidarity. It is a massive structure of ice and moonstone, a holy place tended by a community of Charger Keltaurs that ensure only the true of heart may enter.

Adventures

Keltaurs may seem flighty and easygoing, but this personality masks a deep dedication to protect the world. They will search the world for those that would harm it and see them put to death. Then they will go out, have a barrel of wine, and wake up in jail, ready to fight their way to freedom. A Keltaur puts allegiance to Vatera above all things, even friendship. Their kelpie blood gives them a connection to nature that cannot be broken.

Names

Keltaur names are evocative and descriptive. They are meant to show the personality of the Keltaur upfront so they can spend their time on more important matters, like cupcakes and arson.

  • Example Names: Applefury, Lightning Blossom, Rainshimmer, Cinnamon Dervish, Sparkleblade, Firemane, Amberhoof, Jadefin, Ebondash, Fruitstripe

Keltaur Traits

All Keltaurs have the following traits, bearing the combined physical power of their humanoid and equine origins:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 2.

  • Age: Keltaur age at the same rate as half-elves.

  • Size: Keltaur are taller and more broad-shouldered than most humans. Your size is Medium.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 35 feet.

  • Aquatic Form: You have the Aquatic Form trait.

  • Hard Hooves: Your hooves are a natural melee weapon with the finesse property and deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage. You are proficient in the use of your hooves.

  • Equine Build: You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push or drag. In addition, any climb that requires hands and feet is especially difficult for you because of your hooves. When you make such a climb, each foot of movement costs 3 feet. Finally, a Small or smaller creature can ride on your back if you allow it. In such a situation, you continue to act independently and your rider must spend their movement to remain safely on your back.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Charger, Dazzler, or Flickering Keltaur.

Charger Keltaur

Charger Keltaurs are thick and muscled. Most often found in colder climates, they are known for their determination in battle and resilience. Their coats and scales are in earthen tones, with scales of blues or green.

Charger Keltaurs have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

  • Unshaken: You have resistance to damage from opportunity attacks.

Dazzler Keltaur

A Dazzler Keltaur has a bright pattern of scales and colors and hairs over their body. This pattern shimmers in the light, giving each individual a unique appearance. Dazzler Keltaurs are highly intelligent and have an innate resistance to certain magical effects.

Dazzler Keltaurs have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

  • Born Magical: You have advantage on saving throws against enchantment and illusion spells, as well as anything with the word prismatic in its name.

Flickering Keltaur

A Flickering Keltaur has a deep connection to the Feywild. They can slip in and out of reality, leaving a shimmer of glitter behind them. They are colored in monochromatic or calico patterns, similar to fruit skins or leaves.

Flickering Keltaurs have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

  • Flicker: You can cast misty step as an action once per long rest.

Tarbaku

Overview

The Tarbaku are the ancestral totems of the goblin tribes that lived on Tikarum. When the Black Age came to an end and the sky cried out in pain and fire, the Tarba tribe prayed for safety and sanctuary. They died as the waters rushed over their villages and they scrambled to save those close to them. What survived the destruction were the wooden carvings called Baku. Of the Tarba who perished, one in one thousand were lucky. Their spirits were pulled into the wooden carvings and fell dormant, only awakening after the waters receded. The Tarbaku are the result: a goblin body fused with a wooden mask.

Appearance

Tarbaku are roughly three and a half feet tall. Their bodies have been preserved by the magic of the “mask,” the face of the Baku in which their spirit resides. They have mottled green, brown, and black skin that blends in with the jungle. Their fingers and toes are long and webbed, ending in tiny claws. The mask portion of the body is carved of living wood with exaggerated features that would appear large on a being twice their size. The masks are often painted with bright paints and powders made from crushed crystals and other minerals. As the Tarbaku’s face is made of living wood, it grows into and through the goblin’s body. Because of this, they often have leaves, vines, or plates of wood all over them. There are three varieties of mask, each one representing a different tribe. The masks depict island beasts, goblin ancestors, and alien designs.

Culture

The Tarbaku no longer have a culture of their own. The tribes that preceded them had a history of worshipping different spirits, ancestors, beasts, and the stars. The beast tribes were the most feral and savage, using claws and weapons to hunt down prey. The ancestor-worshipping Tarba were more cunning, crafting spells and herbal remedies in their secluded coastal caves. The star-worshipping tribes were more integrated into society, forming small groups to contribute to their rituals.

Now, as a renewed people, the Tarbaku are solitary. They are also creatures of two minds: the one of their body and the one of the mask. Occasionally, the Tarba and the Baku will argue with one another over a given course of action. This “self talk” causes the Tarbaku to appear insane to outsiders, when it’s actually two mostly-stable minds having a conversation.

Homelands

The Tarbaku awaken almost exclusively on Tikarum. On rare occasions they may awaken on other islands that were host to an immigrant group of Tarba. Today, the Tarbaku are the only living memory of their own people. They know where the cities of Tebron and Varyn are, but these are both crumbling apart and infested with monsters.

Adventures

Tarbaku adventure to understand who they are and why they survived. They don’t know why they were the ones chosen to endure. Some of them were children when they died the first time and are now discovering a world that moved on without them. They seek meaning and understanding of both the world and themselves.

Names

A Tarbaku’s name is something they earn based on their accomplishments. Awakened Tarbaku may also go by the name of their Baku, or a combination of their two identities’ names.

  • Tarba Names: Bladesharpener, Flameholder, Bowstringer, Brushweaver, Hutraiser, Peacebringer

  • Baku Names: Charlizard, Blasturtle, Fernasaurus, Izzlara the Dark Watcher, R’letha the Drowned Star, Numa the Brightmaid, The Golden Blade, The Helmet Guardian, The Claw

Tarbaku Traits

All Tarbaku have the following traits, demonstrating that the tribes have more in common than their disparate communities might suggest:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 2.

  • Age: Tarbaku are immortal so long as their bodies don’t break down from damage.

  • Size: Tarbaku average around 3 feet tall with an oversized head. Your size is Small.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet.

  • Wooden Body: Tarbaku do not need to breathe underwater.

  • Two Minds: You have advantage on saving throws against enchantment spells and charm effects.

  • Naturally Sneaky: You have proficiency in the Stealth skill.

  • Savagery: When you roll damage dice for an attack, you can choose to reroll the damage and you must keep the new result. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Smattering, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Beast-headed, Man-headed, or Star-headed Tarbaku.

Beast-headed

A Beast-headed Tarbaku has the head of an animal like a lion, shark, or dragon. They were originally from tribes that worshipped legendary creatures such as dragons, dire animals, or displacer beasts. Beast-headed Tarbaku have a lot of pointy teeth, but they’re not fond of talking. However, they love the thrill of battle.

Beast-headed Tarbaku have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

  • Savage Charge: If you move at least 15 feet immediately before making a melee attack, you deal an extra d6 damage if you hit.

Man-headed

A Man-headed Tarbaku has a humanoid head with exaggerated features. They originally came from tribes that practiced ancestor worship or revered a singular great chief or king. Man-headed Tarbaku are clever hunters and have a particular fondness for fire, even in such a damp world.

Man-headed Tarbaku have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

  • Ancestral Knowledge: You speak two additional languages and are proficient in an Intelligence- or Wisdom-based skill of your choice.

Star-headed

Some rare Tarbaku are modeled after strange beasts from beyond the stars. Tribes that worshipped alien beings constructed mysterious Baku that reflected these obsessions. Star-headed Tarbaku have a strange magnetism that is hard to ignore, and have convoluted minds and alien strength.

Star-headed Tarbaku have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

  • Stargazer: Star-headed Tarbaku are able to read others’ horoscopes in the stars. Each time you complete a long rest, you may choose a creature you can see, including yourself. Once before your next long rest, when that creature is about to make an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw, they can choose to roll a d6. If the result is 1-2, they have disadvantage on the roll. If the result is 3-6, they have advantage on the roll.

Verdian

Overview

The Verdians are a race of plant people found on Vatera. They are the only race that appears native to Zaratan islands. While most races migrate to the great beasts, Verdians emerge from the Zaratan near their 100th year of age. They are mysterious hunters, tracking, killing, and cooking meat in great bonfires. Some think they’re a type of cleaner that helps maintain the Zaratan’s health, but they’re actually more deeply connected to the ebb and flow of Vatera’s own life force.

Appearance

Verdians are three to four feet tall, with a body made of compressed plant matter, mycelium, soil, and pulps. Their blood is a thin, nutrient-rich liquid that turns green when exposed to air. Their hands are incredibly long, with fingers that can be up to three feet long and trail along the ground. Their bodies are spindly and stiff, made of hardened stems for support. This gives them a distinctive gait that appears jerky, while at the same time never wastes a movement. Verdians need the same things to live as any other being: food, air, and water. A Verdian is capable of surviving without sunlight as their body will become more fungal than fruit- or plant-based, since all three forms of life are constantly in flux within their being. Lastly, inside a Verdian’s chest is their core. This core is a magical rune made of soft, fibrous material that is as delicate as an orange. If this core is destroyed, the Verdian will die, just as if a Merwen had their heart crushed.

In place of hair, Verdians have a variety of different types of growth. Some grow large, leafy greens that wrap down their bodies. Some grow outcrops of mushrooms along their back and shoulders. Still others grow fruiting buds and berries that creep over them according to the seasons. The face of a Verdian carries across individuals, as with most races, but there are some distinct commonalities. The first is that the mouth makes up roughly half of the facial area, able to bend and flex to create wild expressions.

The eyes of a Verdian are universally composed of pure water, somehow given a faint glow from the animating force within. This light can be any shade found in the rainbow and is visible even in total darkness. Their faces do not show the same expressions as most other races, but if a Verdian spends enough time around the other civilizations, they learn to adapt and mimic accordingly.

When Verdians venture into aquatic environments, their lower bodies shift into a long “tail” of kelp, seagrass, algae, and vegetation, laced with small bulbs of greenery. This tail propels them through the waters much like a jellyfish’s tendrils, giving them a steady pace through the water.

Lastly, gender is unheard of among Verdians. A body is a body, and is nothing but a vessel to enable action and thought into the world. They may have a variety of plants that pollinate in the right seasons, but that is the nature of plants. A Verdian believes in the nature of the soul and the being, and that is not tethered to a simple expression. A Verdian who has spent a great deal of time among other races may choose to grow or develop their body in certain ways so as to make others more at ease.

Culture

The culture of Verdians vary from Zaratan to Zaratan, and is highly influenced by the dominant makeup of their bodies. One common thread among all the different groups of Verdian is a reverence for the Lifeblood, a spring of water that wells up somewhere on the Zaratan when it has reached the appropriate age. Trees and plants which grow near the Lifeblood will occasionally drop a rich, blood-red seed that sprouts into a young Verdian over the course of the next year. The Verdian will need guidance and nurturing, so when there are enough Verdians on an island to allow it, older members will distance themselves from family to look over the Lifeblood and see that each young Verdian is given to the adult that is best suited and most willing to care for it. This means that Verdian family units are matters of choice, not obligation or sexual reproduction.

The most commonly seen Verdians are known as Vegans. Their bodies are lush, green, and leafy, and often bear pods of beans or arms speckled with kernels of corn. Vegans are wary of outsiders, preferring to face down prey in head-on challenges of might, honor, and glory. What they catch will be roasted until it is nearly blackened, before being shared among the entire village. Vegans are stalwart, stopic, and fierce protectors of their homes.

The next most commonly recognized subrace of Verdian are the Fructerrans. They are colorful and eclectic, and can often be found in mixed communities with Vegans. Fructerrans tend to have thin vines wrapped around them, and they have large, prominent orbs of fruit on their joints. Their heads may even be one large fruit that grows, withers, and flowers again as the seasons change. They are much more outgoing than Vegans, acting more as tenders of the land and being trusted to keep the stories and traditions of their people alive with song and art.

The last subrace of Verdian is known as the Mycans. They are more cunning and sly than their sun-loving kin. While Mycans are not hindered by sunlight, they alone can venture into the deep recesses of their homes and find the beasts that lurk within. They prefer traps to duels and poisons to pleasantries. What they catch is either fermented in tightly packed earthen pots or eaten as near to alive as possible.

Homelands

To a Verdian, home is Vatera. All islands are Vatera and Vatera is the islands. That being said, each Verdian knows its place of creation and can pick it apart from any other place with but a glance. However, there is a place sacred to the Verdian people. When the first Verdian is created on a Zaratan, it is created with the knowledge that there is a place waiting for them. Called The Grove, this location is shrouded in secrecy. It’s rumored to be a place where all kinds of Verdians can gather and hear the whispers and songs of Vatera. There is no known location for The Grove, leading many Verdians to question its physical existence and view it as a metaphor for where they come from and where they will return when they die. All life came from The Grove, and to The Grove it will return. Wars have been fought between tribes over the meaning of The Grove, and it is a topic best left unspoken in polite company.

Names

Verdian names are something developed when they are in contact with races from outside of their homes. The Verdian language is a collection of half spoken concepts, poetry, whispers, scents, and hand motions, making a conversation between two or more into a sort of dance and song rolled into one as each one shares thoughts and ideas. The following names are given as brief examples: “I have killed a hundred beasts since the sun has risen and I enjoy the scent of fresh winds and bird song,” “The scent of spring rain over daisy petals,” “The blood of vengeance soaked for three days and left to rot for their transgression.” These names are fluid and shifting, owing to an individual’s changing idea of self and their place in the world. Their names in mixed company are often more common.

  • Example Names: Heyoo, Bud-dee, Myss, Hooayoo, Hwat, Hao, Halo

Verdian Traits

All Verdians have the following traits, imbued by the essence of the Zaratans, if not the primal force of Vatera herself:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

  • Age: Verdians reach maturity around 5 years of age. They are considered old around 20 years of age, and they may live as long as 50 years.

  • Size: Verdians are between 3 and 4 feet tall. Their stature and spindly limbs make them smaller than most. Your size is Small.

  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a swim speed of 25 feet.

  • Aquatic Form: You have the Aquatic Form trait.

  • Naturally Adept: You have advantage on saving throws against effects involving or relating to plants such as thorns, plant-based poisons, the entangle spell, and other plant-based hazards.

  • Supple Limbs: Your arms can reach up to 10 feet away for purposes such as grasping, climbing, or performing fine motor skills, though this does not affect your reach for attacks.

  • Languages: You can speak Mer, Verdian, and one other language of your choice.

  • Subrace: Choose one of the three subrace options below: Vegan, Fructerran, or Mycan.

Vegan

The most common of the three subraces, Vegans are covered in a variety of grasses, leaves, stems, shoots, and plant life. They are defenders of their land and people, often distrusting of others without being immediately hostile. They keep weapons close and tend to rely on their own strength rather than accept help from outsiders. However, if one can overcome this initial reluctance, they can be eternal allies.

Vegans have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.

  • Thick Blood: Vegans have viscous lifeblood. They require only 2 successful death saving throws to stabilize. They also have advantage on saving throws against ongoing effects that deal damage as their bodies learn to adapt and overcome the effect.

Fructerran

The Verdians of the Fructerran subrace are wrapped in vines, flowers, fruits, and other signs of natural abundance depending on the season. They are more open to outsiders than their other kin but not without some sense of self defense.

Fructerrans have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

  • Vibrant Guard: A Fructerran’s body is covered in fruiting plants. They may use these in a tense situation to help protect them from harm by raising a thick growth of hard nut or melon. When you are hit by an attack, you may use your reaction to gain +2 to your AC, which can turn a hit into a miss. This bonus lasts until the start of your next turn. Once you use this trait, it can’t be used again until you complete a long rest.

Mycan

The Verdians belonging to the Mycan subrace have bodies that are well-adapted to shadows and darkness. They are stockier than most Verdians, with dense limbs and a cold, untrusting personality.

Mycans have the following traits:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 90 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it was dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

  • Naturally Toxic: When you fail a saving throw against poison, you can choose to reroll the save. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you complete a long rest.

Aquatic Combat Rules

Do aquatic rules already exist for underwater combat? Yeah, of course they do. Are they simple and easy to use in play? No. Do I love calculating distances in 3D space? No, I do not. To that end, I have altered the rules for aquatic combat to be easier to run.

Underwater Combat

Combat remains in a two-dimensional space for most intents and purposes. There are new conditions to represent how creatures move in a three-dimensional space. Conceptually, there are three levels of elevation or “depths” that combat encounters take place in. The primary depth is the location where the encounter starts. If the encounter involves both land and water, then the primary depth is at sea level.

Underwater combat encounters take place in 2D space, and creatures can be assumed to be moving and swaying with each other. A creature can use its movement during its turn to enter another depth, indicated by a unique condition. Whether this is described as moving to a higher or lower elevation, the effects are the same in most cases.

These new conditions are “circling” and “diving”. A creature must be circling (i.e. at the circling depth) before they can begin diving (i.e. at the diving depth), and vice versa. If a diving creature wishes to return to the primary depth, they must move back into the circling depth first.

New Conditions

Circling: A creature who is circling is considered to be just outside of the primary depth, either above or below. It is darting and avoiding melee, but is not entirely committed to retreat. A creature who starts its turn while circling does not provoke opportunity attacks, and melee attacks against it have disadvantage. However, its melee attacks also have disadvantage. A circling creature can use half its movement to re-enter the primary depth and gain advantage on melee attack rolls until the end of its turn.

Diving: A creature who is diving is considered to be far outside the primary depth, typically at least 30 feet away either above or below. A diving creature does not provoke opportunity attacks. A diving creature cannot be targeted with melee or ranged attacks unless the attacker is diving or circling — and even then, attacks against a diving creature have disadvantage. Lastly, a diving creature  has disadvantage on melee attacks  against circling creatures. They may not target creatures on the standard plane with melee or ranged attacks unless a specific ability says otherwise.. A diving creature can spend half of its movement to return to circling.

Spells with Saving Throws

A spell whose initial effect requires a saving throw instead of an attack roll can target outside the primary depth. A spell with a radius or height of 15 feet or more can affect both the primary and circling depths or both the circling and diving depths. In other words, the caster must exclude either the primary depth or the diving depth. A spell with a radius or height of 30 feet or more can affect creatures regardless of depth. The caster must choose which depth is the center of the spell. Targets at the chosen depth make their saves according to normal circumstances, while targets at other depths make their saves with advantage.

(Optional Rule) Spells that deal damage have their normal effect within the depth where they are centered, while targets at other depths halve the damage before determining the outcomes of their saving throws.

Coastal Combat

Often, battles may be fought both in water and on solid ground, whether by a river, on a beach, or aside a ship. Combatants may be out of the water, at the water’s surface, or under the water. In these cases, attacks can have modifiers depending on where the attacker and target are located. In general:

  • A creature that is standing at least half-submerged in water but still within 5 feet of a creature outside of the water is treated as having half cover (+2 to AC and Dexterity saving throws).

  • A creature that is fully underwater and more than 5 feet but no more than 30 feet from a creature outside of the water is treated as having the circling condition.

  • A creature that is fully underwater and more than 30 feet away from a creature outside of the water is treated as having the diving condition.

The DM may determine that a body of water is too shallow to permit circling or diving. In general, circling requires a depth of 10 feet and diving requires a depth of 30 feet.

Weapons In Aquatic Combat

Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing weapons all work just fine underwater. Because it’s cool and I don’t want every PC to have to carry around a pointed stick when they really wanted a warhammer with a giant snail shell as the head.

Ranged Weapons

Over the years, races have learned to make more aerodynamic spears and arrows that work underwater. Maybe they spin. Maybe they have special fish fins that propel them. Maybe they’re made out of special blood magnets. Just let the archers arch. It won’t kill anyone. Well, except the creatures that the weapons kill. Charge a few extra coins if you want.

The Prone Condition

Creatures can still be knocked prone while in water and suffer the same effects as on land. Instead of being described as laying on the ground, they are floundering off-balance and trying to right themselves.

How I View Alignment

In the interest of openness and transparency, I’m going to share how I view alignment in my games. Is this required for all? No. It is heavily inspired by the Tides system from Torment: Tides of Numenera and the colors of magic from Magic: the Gathering.

During character creation, a player chooses two alignments for their character to represent their ideals and the impact their character has on the world. For the player, they view their ideals and motives as their alignment. NPCs may view the characters differently if their actions have effects they did not foresee. A very good and helpful PC may be seen as evil if they end up profiting a great deal for example. Is this going to cause people to lose class features? Nah, nah you’re good. Can it lead to good story moments? Hopefully!

Lawful: The Lawful alignment is linked to wisdom, reason, enlightenment, knowledge and mysticism. Things that show affinity for Lawful include research, study, analysis, trying to test outcomes, adhering to a set of beliefs, or searching for clarity of being. This isn’t about being “smart.” It’s about wanting there to be an order to the world, whether that means enforcing it, admiring it, or searching for it. A bard studying the nature of music and its underpinnings can be lawful. A warrior that is studying the vast array of techniques and strategies in battle can be lawful. A druid that is preserving and studying rare creatures and seeing that the order of nature is preserved can be lawful. This can include crusaders, philosophers, and inventors.

Good: The Good alignment that represents empathy, compassion, charity and sacrifice. When you seek out those in need and try to remove their suffering, that is goodness. When you share what you have so that others can prosper, that is goodness. When you hear a cry for help and you act, that is goodness. Good is about the effect of the actions you take. A character that is Good thinks about the needs of the community and the world before the needs of the individual. While this is usually for more “heroic” characters, there are more sinister characters that can also be good. The cleric that wants to purify a disease by eliminating the sick, can be good. An exorcist that drives out a demon by slaying its host, can be good. Good isn’t the same as nice.

Neutral: The Neutral alignment symbolizes justice, equity, compromise and balance. “Keeping the balance” often comes to mind with neutrality. Seeing that things are spread out evenly. A true neutral character would strive to keep a balance between law, chaos, good, and evil by being above such things and viewing them impartially and worth equal value. There is no light without darkness and no order without unrule. A character that is Neutral Good, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil, or Lawful Good likely sees their alignment as the best. That it needs to be shared with all for it to be most fully experienced. They are also likely to be VERY opposed to the opposite alignment.

Chaotic: The Chaotic alignment represents emotion, passion, action, pathos and zeal. It’s easy to assume that those connected to chaos are all destructive, but that’s not the case. Chaos is about feeling and emotions and energy. It can be about romance and art. It can be the rush of battle and the roar of an army at your back. When you embrace your savage, primal, emotions and your passions, you are embracing chaos. A barbarian warlord leading parties on a rampage is chaotic. A flirtatious princess that causes fighting as a result of her constant flirting is chaotic, especially if this is done for a true love of passion and connection. Two lovers rebelling from family tradition to be together no matter the cost are chaotic. Chaos is not always destructive, but consequences are rarely considered.

Evil: The Evil alignment is about fame, admiration, power, and personal pride. When someone puts themselves before others, that is evil. When someone seeks to attain glory for personal benefit, that is evil. When someone seeks to have the memory of their deed and action echo through the halls of time by enslaving a population to build a monument to their person, that is evil. If someone wants to have power over others and amass an army of minions to heed his beck and call, that is evil. Likewise, a character that delves into tombs for glory and game, is evil. A character that wants to attain a kingdom to rule over to spread a personal agenda and profit selfishly, that is evil. Those that adhere to the Evil alignment want to leave their mark on history, or influence others or impose their will upon others.

Boss Monsters

Boss monsters are creatures that are meant to face an entire party as a solo encounter. They have more hit points and they have multiple reactions they can use to help keep the tension high and provide an interesting challenge to a party of adventurers.

Changes to the original creature:

HP: Between 50% and 100% extra Hit Points.

AC/Saves: Around +2 to AC and Saving Throws.

Actions: All boss monsters can make at least two attacks on their turn.

Legendary Actions: All boss monsters have legendary actions. They may take between 1 and 3 actions outside of your turn, at the end of a PC’s turn. This may be an attack, move, or use a different ability. Some examples include:

Summoning minions.

Saving minions from dying.

Moving without provoking opportunity attacks.

Grappling a target.

Turning invisible.

Dealing damage to attackers.

Eventually, I’ll make a list of possible powers, but I’m just starting to feel this idea out.

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