Beastfolk, River People (3.5e Race)
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(Note’‘: The river people draw upon Ollie Canal’s gorgs for inspiration.) Waterways are the most common and fastest form of cheap transportation. Anyone who can uses waterways to move their goods and services from place to place, allowing rapid negotiation of large swaths of land with minimal hassle. At least, that is how it is until a traveler enters river people territory. Then, quite suddenly, a traveling trader will discover that he or she has stepped right into the middle of a well-organized group of highly-skilled and very persuasive merchants, who are more than eager to divest the hapless trader of goods for bargain prices, and then to charge toll prices for the return trip out of their territory. While physically imposing, river people are not feared for their warrior mettle, because they generally do not have any once put to the test, despite their occasional use of bullying tactics to get what they want. Rather, the river people are feared most because they are some of the shrewdest and best-organized traders around.
In general, the river people are calm and relaxed, taking their time, and letting their potential customers wait. They know that they have a monopoly of sorts, thanks to their dominance of the waterways, and they see no reason behind unnecessary hurry. However, beneath this easygoing façade lies a dangerous undercurrent of seething savagery. This can be felt instinctively by most people who meet them, and the river people are more than happy to apply a bit of intimidation as well as polite diplomacy in their dealings with others, so long as it helps them get their way. Above all else, river people like to get their way, though they’re willing to play by the rules of other races as long as it suits their purposes. After all, what’s the point of making a profit if you end up in prison or executed getting it? This leads to the most important aspect of a river person’s personality; they are motivated by profit. While not blinded by greed, and not unwilling to show kindness, river people see no point in doing something unless it is likely to yield some sort of a payback, the bigger the better. Even when they help other people out for free, this is seen as a way to build customer relations – an investment for the future.
If they were not so slow-moving and lazy, the massive river people would be terrifying. With large, heavy-lidded brown, yellow or black eyes, vast, corpulent bodies and thick-but-sensitive hides of tan, brown, grey, or pink, and stumpy limbs, the river folk seem less dangerous, looking much like humanoid hippopotami. However, once they open their large mouths, and show off the huge, sharp tusks within, and start to move, their loud, deep voices bellowing as they begin to swing an uprooted tree trunk or a heavy iron maul as a weapon, then one starts to understand why hippos and river people are considered the most dangerous creatures in the water. River people usually wear very little, though they are commonly seen with a series of massive, waterproof packs and pouches on their person, in which they carry their goods while swimming.
River people get along splendidly with halflings, once a business relationship has been worked out. As long as the halflings keep away from the merchandise, river people are more than happy to do business with them, and the halflings, recognizing the problems they could face while trying to cross rivers owned by the river people, generally abide by these rules. Porque and river people naturally get along, as both races have an instinctive understanding of the other, and it is not uncommon for river people to hire savage porque guards for their goods. Beyond this, river people will get along well with anyone who they think they can profit from, which is virtually everybody, though this tends to be the shallow sort of friendliness that is as limited as the buying power of the people in question. However, the river people do not get along with anyone who steals from them. They have a longstanding hatred towards the proscion because of this, and they absolutely despise raiders who try and take things by force. While there are only a few races who would dare such a thing, hobgoblins, orcs and wolfen are among them, and the river people are always wary whenever dealing with these races.
Focused on profit first of all, gained in whatever manner as is legally allowed by the people with whom they do business, the river people are a focused Neutral in alignment. While they are rather greedy, they are not savagely avaricious, and may even donate to charities and worthy causes, though largely in the hopes that their investments will help people get back on their feet so that they can spend more money in the future. While river people may deal in less-savory goods such as slaves and narcotics, they only sell these items where they are legal (though the more unscrupulous among their number may not be as picky about where they originally get the goods in question).
While river people have been around for a long time, it is only fairly recently that they began to capitalize on their places of living as a means of securing profit. As their racial name hints, river people use waterways for travel, either by swimming (which does not tire them anything like walking does, and they can do for hours without complaint), or by using very sturdy boats and barges capable of holding both their significant weight and the weight of their goods. Waterways near land of sufficient depth and width to contain the massive bulk of the river people have been their ancestral habitats for generations, and there are few races as well-adapted for this manner of living as the river people. If at all possible, river people will buy exclusive rights to their favored tracts of river and canal from local rulers, which they often do when seeking to expand their trading territory.
Gods of travel and trade are those that most interest the river people. These are the means by which they have gained their recent swell in mercantile success, and they feel a sense of mild dept to the gods overseeing such activities, and pay them appropriate veneration. Before their rise to wealth the river people were largely disinterested in religion, and so they generally take their deities of worship from other races, lacking any of their own.
River people speak a casual form of Giant, and also Common, the trade tongue of the land. Because of their wide traveling and interest in selling their wares, river people are able to select bonus languages from the same group as humans – in other words, any non-secret language like druidic.
The languorous, slow-moving river people give their children languorous, slow-moving names. These names tend to be full of long, deep vowel sounds, with a few small consonants thrown in. Common male names include Eeoioo, Hanboo, and Raawaoon, and common female names include Anooa, Loonaa, and Reeaa. The clan names of the river people are generally associated with major mercantile houses owned by the clan in question, and so it is not uncommon for river people to change their clan name if they are bought out or form a merger (another word for marriage with the river people) with another mercantile group, though it is also not uncommon for mated pairs of river people with roughly equal monetary status to each retain their clan name. Common Clan names include Bellybare, Dunker, Gaspar, and Unguent.
There is only one thing that can motivate a river person to adventure: profit. This usually means that an adventuring party might actually be hired by a young, low-level river person seeking a desperate but fast way to easy wealth, and the river person in question accompanies the party to ensure that they act in accordance with their employer’s best interests. Alternatively, a junior member of a river people clan might be assigned to accompany a party hired by an older, higher-ranking member of the clan for similar reasons, and probably also as a form of punishment for failure.
- +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity
- Monstrous Humanoid
- Large-size: –1 size AC penalty, a –4 size penalty on Hide checks, +4 bonus on Grapple checks, and 10-foot reach.
- River person base land speed is 30 feet: Swim speed 20
- Low-light vision
- Load-bearing frame: River people calculate their carrying capacity as if they had 5 bonus points of Strength.
- Pigmy Breed: A riverfolk can take the Dwarfism racial Feat (found in the “Feats of the Beastfolk” document) without penalty (movement speed drops to 20’ per round).
- Natural Armor +2
- Natural Weapon: Blunt Chomp (Bite attack, 1d8 bludgeoning damage)
- Natural Traders: +2 to Diplomacy and Intimidate skill checks.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Giant. Bonus Languages: Any.
- Favored Class: Wizard or Warmage.
- Level Adjustment: +1
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