Beastfolk (3.5e Race)
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Anthropomorphic races for the d20 system’s Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
Dungeons & Dragons and related material is copyright Wizards of the Coast, Incorporated. This work is copyright Gideon Kalve Jarvis and may be distributed and reposted freely (and this author encourages it), so long as the author’s name is retained in the reposting.
Whether through the machinations of wizards or the meddling of the gods or simply the quirks of fate, a world can quickly become awash in sentient species, each one trying in its own fashion to find and defend a niche, however small and specialized. Of these many sentient species, a great many take traits from the nonsentient animals, or are related to them directly. The races below are a collection of several of the more common of these beastfolk. Unless otherwise noted, the races below use the human charts for aging.
In game terms, the following races were developed for Wizards of the Coast’s 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons system, using the D20 rules, as a way to provide an opportunity for “furry” fans to play out some of the species they most enjoy, all of which have been designed for use starting at first level, without need for any level adjustments. Some of these races may not work in a given campaign, while others will fit without need for serious modification. Naturally, since this is a non-profit work, the information here can be taken and modified to suit the individual needs of a given campaign without incident, so long as some credit is given to the author.
To add a species to a game world, especially to an established game, having these new races suddenly pop out of the woodwork can be problematic, but there are a few ideas on how to integrate them. First, the new species could come from a distant and unknown area of the world, and only recently have been discovered or started to set out into the world at large. Another option is that the race has always been around, but in such small numbers or in such insignificant roles that they weren’t of sufficient importance to draw any attention until recently, when their present population or social situation changed sufficiently to draw attention to them. Finally, the race might have just appeared in the world, either coming from another dimension or world, or having just been created, by gods, meddling mortals, or any number of different methods.
For those players wishing to add even more variety to their games, the official Wizards of the Coast work, Savage Species, can be invaluable in turning monster races into playable characters, though the rules in that volume sometimes requires a little tweaking for perfection in a given campaign. Later writings in this vein may (if there is any interest shown) include a listing of these races, as well as their statistical information. Also, the various “Races” books (Races of Stone, Races of the Wild, Races of Destiny, Races of the Dragon, etcetera) are also very useful resources for playing a variety of new and interesting species, some of which only require the lightest tweaking in order to turn them more “furry” in nature, if they are not already so (as I do with Raptorans and Catfolk, from Races of the Wild, in making the birdfolk and the urban catfolk, presented below).
While writing up some races, the race had an affinity for more than one favored class. In the case of more than one class being listed (some from the “Complete” series of class books, some from the Miniatures Handbook, and some from The Player’s Handbook II), the player may select one of these classes as the favored racial class, after which the other is considered a normal multiclassing option like any other class.
As a final note, I am aware that there are more species out there which I have not covered here, and which many people love. I am also aware that while writing up the advantages and disadvantages of various species that I have skimmed in places, or left out sections of an animal’s characteristics. Most of this was done for the purposes of game balance, so that the races listed below could be used as starting level characters. Of course there is also a certain element of forgetfulness on my part, and for this I apologize in advance. If any user of this material wishes, they are more than allowed to make the needed adjustments themselves for their games. Or you can send me a rewritten version of an existing species, or a request for a species which I missed, and I will be more than happy to look it over, and do what I can to include it when I write a second installment of this work. Naturally, the more information about an animal included in the request for addition of a new species or modification to one already presented here, the easier it will be for me to turn it into a Player Character race.
Beastfolk can get lycanthropy, the same as any other humanoid species. However, because they are already so close to their animal ties, beastfolk receive an additional +4 to any saves to resist becoming infected, to recover from infection when such rolls are appropriate, and, when infected, to gaining control of the lycanthropy. Beastfolk are not to be confused with lycanthropes of any sort, because lycanthropes are able to change shape, have set alignments (as set forth in the various Monster Manuals), are identifiably more savage and horrific in appearance (as a result of being controlled by the powerful instincts of their change), and often sport many fairly obvious supernatural characteristics that are not present in beastfolk like catfolk, porque, ratlings, ursa, and wolfen. The curse of lycanthropy is one where the sufferer loses themselves to the feral, savage instincts of another entity that destroys their former personality and alignment, and it is feared and hated as much by beastfolk as it is by any other race.
Beastfolk-Blooded and Half Breeds
Half Breeds are those who have some of the blood of one of the beastfolk in them. Beastfolk, except where specifically noted, are able to breed with humans, elves may interbreed with aranthi and foxkin, dwarves may interbreed with bucktoothed builders, and gnomes may interbreed with prickleskins. The offspring of such unions are Half Breeds. This is usually only a cosmetic difference, as well as having any stigmas, determined by the DM, that may affect roleplaying, as Half Breeds have the same statistics as a pureblooded specimen of their beastfolk parent. Half Breeds take after the culture and languages of the people by which they are raised, though they may have some trouble fitting in, depending on how prejudiced that culture might be. Very often Half Breeds are sterile, but, in those cases where this is not so, further breeding with humans will create a beastfolk-blooded (a Feat found in the “Feats of the Beastfolk” document) human with a few minor animal traits, and breeding with another beastfolk will produce a normal beastfolk. Matings between two Half Breeds will, naturally, produce another Half Breed.
The difference in appearance for Half Breeds and humans with traces of beastfolk blood in them is that Half Breeds look like beastfolk with human traits, such as the lack of a tail, human eyes or ears, a humanlike face, less fur or scales, or more humanlike legs and hands, while beastfolk-blooded humans look like humans with a few animal characteristics, such as a tail, animal ears or eyes, clawed hands and feet, patches of fur or scale or feathers where hair would be (a trait which is sometimes accompanied by a complete lack of body hair, the beastfolk dermal covering taking the place of hair on the head and animal body parts such as ears and tail, and no actual hair growing anywhere else).
On the subject of humanlike traits, it must also be noted that the various beastfolk can have quite a lot of variation in the specifics of their species, ranging from having full digitigrade (like canids and felids) or unguligrade (like cervids and equines) legs, long muzzles and bestial eyes and other animal-like features, to plantigrade (humanlike) feet, flat faces, and even minimal animal characteristics. Most beastfolk fall into a happy medium between these two extremes, with variations depending on how an individual Dungeon Master wants to play them in a campaign, and how much human blood is a part of the genetic mix of the race.
Statistics-wise, Half Breeds use the same racial adjustments as their beastfolk parent, varying only in appearance and possibly culture, while Beastfolk-Blooded is a racial Feat that can be taken by a starting human character (detailed in the “Feats of the Beastfolk” document).
An alternative rule to making Half Breeds is to open the doors of interspecies mingling completely. Whether this applies to the beastfolk only or to other races, and which races those might be, is left to the discretion of the Dungeon Master. In general, though, this optional rule means that the beastfolk are able to interbreed with all races, including different varieties of beastfolk, because of roughly common origins in the game world, while interbreeding rules for other races remain the same (i.e. elves can interbreed with humans but not dwarves or orcs, etcetera).
If this optional rule is chosen, it is possible to have an incredibly wide variety of different racial mixes, and this can often become confusing. As a general rule, then, to keep things simple, in the case of interspecies mating, the offspring of such unions take on the racial statistics of the mother, though their appearance can be any combination of the two parents chosen by the player or allowed by the DM. The Beastfolk-Blooded racial Feat (from the “Feats of the Beastfolk” document) should be taken to demonstrate mixed parentage.