Beastfolk, Ursa (3.5e Race)
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Tribal people have long venerated the bear for its strength, its courage, and its similarity to humans. The ursa were said to have come into being, long ago, when a long forgotten people cried out to the gods with full faith and desire, asking to be given the form of the bears that they venerated, weaving a spell of great potency alongside their prayers. Whether it was the effects of the magic, or the gods truly did answer the prayer is irrelevant. All that matters is that this people were indeed transformed into beings neither bear nor human, but something in between and entirely new. These deeply spiritual people, with great stores of lore in healing and the ways of combat, were the first of the ursa, and they have spread across the world from these initial beginnings, though they favor the colder places, staying away from places too warm for their liking, seldom, if ever, venturing beyond places with a temperate climate.
A typical ursa is a smooth blending of extremes. Boisterous, overwhelming fits of mirth and celebration are soon followed by periods of quiet contemplation and careful consideration. Vicious, bloodthirsty combat on a level hard to imagine soon gives way to loving attention and skilled healing. Ursa throw themselves into whatever they do, taking no half measures, and trying to live life to the fullest, making their presences charged with vital energy that often leaks into those around them.
If a bear were to stand upright and wear clothes, then that would be an adequate description of an ursa. Bears being incredibly humanoid in conformation already, there really is very little to differentiate a normal bear from an ursa, except for the more developed opposable thumbs, allowing the free use of tools, and the slightly more domed forehead, indicating greater intellectual ability. Ursa types run the gamut of bear conformations, from the small sun, panda and black bears to the massive grizzly and polar bears of the coldest regions.
There are many races who prefer to stay on the good side of the ursa. The wolfen are among the foremost of these groups, since their ranges often overlap with those of ursa territories, and so most wolfen and ursa have an amicable relationship. Ursa are very fond of elves, though elves tend to be a bit wary of the burly bearkin, and they are absolutely delighted at the presence of almost any of the smaller races (dwarves, gnomes and halflings), and like to make friends whenever possible. Danali and ovida can often find safe haven in isolated lands owned by the ursa, and many gain a measure of safety in this manner, providing the ursas protecting them with food in exchange for protection. The ursa do not like evil races as a rule, because of their disharmony with the natural world, and the harm they usually cause in their grasping for power and material gain, which just helps to spread misery, and creates an uncomfortable situation for all involved.
Because of their independent streak, and their extroverted, self-confident manner of carrying themselves, most ursas are Chaotic Good in alignment, though there are notable exceptions, many of them evil and quite dangerous, with a few Neutral and even Lawful Good members of the race who take even more readily to lives of quiet contemplation and meditation.
Because of their sheer physical might, only a very few people are able to tell a full-grown ursa what to do. For this reason, ursas usually find quiet, peaceful locations, removed from other people, and set up their homes there, with a loose gathering of mutual friends forming a small-scale mutual protection alliance to keep out others who might want to take the areas for themselves, setting up small but functional bands. It is quite common for ursa to allow ovida or even human peasants to set up homes and farms on their lands, and the ursa are only too happy to do one of the things they do best – namely, crack heads – in exchange for food and various comforts.
The ursa are a highly spiritual people, despite their often boisterous, outgoing natures, and they are always sure to pay the gods they honor most proper obeisance. In general, ursa worship gods of strength and of healing, these being the attributes they value most of all. Kord is a perfect example of the sort of deity that ursa venerate, and Ehlonna is a decent example, as is Pelor. Ursa also take pains to stay in harmony with the world of spirits and nature, and try not to get out of balance with the world around them.
Ursa speak a dialect of Giant, and are also acquainted with the Common tongue, which are their starting languages. For bonus languages, Ursa can select between Avian, Danali, Dwarven, Elven, Feline, Gnoll, Goblin, Ibixian, Orc and Wolfen.
Ursa names, as befits a people that once stemmed from tribal humans, are tribal in nature, usually the result of the first thing of note seen by the mother after she leaves the place where she gave birth, or else a distinctive physical trait of the newborn, or an attribute that the mother hopes the cub will develop. Also common are names stemming from tribes that live in the cold regions of the world. Bjorn, Kuoti, and Redpaw are common male names, while Freya, Shea and White Rain are common female names. Surnames are almost unheard of, because ursas do not form extended family units, cubs maintaining relations with their mothers and grandmothers, but almost never with their male relatives, except for their siblings.
While theoretically lives of adventuring and daring quests are considered the ideal for ursa culture, the reality is quite a bit more peaceful. The average ursa would rather hunt, fish and forage for a living, raising bees for honey and mead, perhaps lording over a few docile ovida or human peasants on their farms in exchange for protection, and let themselves grow fat and sedentary with the passing of years. However, there are indeed many who do follow the heroic ideal, and so it is quite common to see ursas roaming the land, looking to make names for themselves.
- +6 Strength, +4 Constitution, -2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence(Ursa Dominus); +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence(Ursa); -2 Strength, +4 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom(Teddies)
- Large, Medium, or Small Beastfolk
- Small-size to Large-Size, Large ursas are called Ursa Dominus, and Small ursas are called Teddies.
- Ursa base land speed is 30 feet
- +4 to Heal checks and a +2 to Listen,Search, and Spot.
- Thick Hide: +4 natural armor bonus to AC.
- Natural Weapon: 2 claws (1d6 piercing and slashing damage each), 1 bite (1d8 piercing and crushing damage)
- Fat Reserves: Ursa get Endurance as a bonus racial Feat, and also get a +4 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against the effects of cold weather.
- Longevity: Ursa mature as quickly as a human, but live for about as long as a gnome.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Giant. Bonus Languages: Avian, Danali, Dwarven, Elven, Feline, Gnoll, Goblin, Ibixian, Orc, Wolfen.
- Favored Class: Any
- Level Adjustment: +2(Ursa Dominus); +1 (Ursa), +1 (Teddies)
- Ursa Dominuses takes 2 levels of Beastfolk(2d12 for Hit Points) and (2+int modifier)x6 Skill Points. Large creature: -1 AC, -4 on Hide, +4 on Grapple checks
- Ursas take 1 level of Beastfolk(1d12 for Hit Points) and (2+int modifier)x4 Skill Points. Medium Creature: no other bonuses or penalties
- Teddies take a level of Small Beastfolk(1d6 for Hit Points) and (4+int modifier)x4 Skill Points. Small Creature; +4 to Hide and Move Silently, +2 to Search and Spot, +1 AC, and -4 on Grapple Checks
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