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The Peoples of the Sun
In tales of carnage and conquest amongst the natives of Rukaea, the Ghuvor are described with vivid verbal imagery. Large, muscular and apparently savage, they are the demons made flesh against which the soldiers of the North are tempered, and which fuel the nightmares of the little, gray-skinned children. Though not truly evil, the glaring differences in their culture mark their nigh inevitable enmity with the soft-skinned folks of the open land.
Ghuvor are not truly reptiles. In fact, they are closer to a strain of creature whose existence began before that of the dinosaurs. The Ghuvor are an advanced, sapient race of therapsids, or mammal-like reptiles. Much like early therapsidae, they retain the scaly hides of their reptilian predecessors. They all possess tails, though the length, thickness and dexterity vary by ethnic group. Their hands and feet bear sturdy claws, jutting from the tips of their phalanges and tarsals. The front teeth of a Ghuvor are sharp, but they also possess ridged molars for grinding food; lips, cheeks, and other distinctively articulate facial muscles. But, while all of these traits may be evident in advanced reptiles, a cursory look at the rest of their features proves their kinship to mammalian traits.
Life for Ghuvors begins inside leathery eggs, not the hard shells of their reptile cousins. Furthermore, these scaled behemoths are lukewarm blooded. They possess the ability to maintain thermostasis (given an adequate food supply) when the weather turns cold. Additionally, the sexual deviance of the species is evident in their absence of cloacal vents. Males possess external genitalia, and while a female's remains internal, its structure differs tremendously from those of lizards and serpents. Through these same organs pass liquid waste in the form of aqueous suspensions of urea, while solid waste is excreted through a secondary, sphinctral orifice. In evolutionary terms, they are very mammal-like in this regard. Females even possess mammary glands, in fatty deposits above the muscle tissue in their chests. (Though they are small in comparison to Ygneaujkol breasts, even during lactation) Like mammals, they nurse their young. While these breasts, covered with scaled ridges, have no areolae out of which the milk may be suckled, infant instinct produces a different rooting reflex where they nudge and nuzzle rather than suckle, and the resulting flow from various ducts in the scales is trapped by the ridges in the scales and lapped up by the hungry hatchling. While multiple births are possible, and not altogether rare, single-egg births are the norm for most Ghuvor women.
Ghuvor men, on the other hand, usually grow barrel chested and broad-shouldered, the chemical make-up in their blood fueling several dramatic growth spurts throughout their life. While females grow tall and fair, proportionally speaking, males seem simply to grow. Adult Ghuvors are considered medium-sized creatures, though they are still young by the race's standards. While adulthood begins around their twelfth year (just over four decades by Gregorian reckoning), they can live to be nearly six centuries old. (By our reckoning, nearly two thousand years) While this is the age by which most are claimed by Father Time, less than one ten-thousandth of all Ghuvor born will live to be even a quarter of that age. Most are claimed by battle, either with other communities of their own kind or the neighboring softskins, by diseases or infections brought on by ill-treated wounds or many of the foreign pathogens native to the Rukaean continent, or by lack of adequate nutrition. Though they are omnivorous, Rukaean Ghuvor metabolisms require of them a diet nearly triple the size that they are used to in the tropical climates of their homelands.
But, as Ghuvor age, they also grow in size. Their growth spurts are marked by periods of spotty shedding, which is only apparent if they let their hygiene habits slip. The dead scales are usually dislodged and destroyed through regular changes of clothing or armor, swimming, and bathing. Over the course of their life, they go from roughly six feet in adulthood (Medium size) to as much as twenty feet in full height (Huge size) when they've lived long enough. Below is a table listing the age categories of Ghuvor, and the necessary adjustments to racial hit-die and ability scores.
(Note: While able enough to take care of themselves before adulthood, a community does not allow adolescent Ghuvor outside of their boundaries farther than ordinary training routines would take them)
- Early Adulthood [12-20 Jherracz years :: 40-71 Gregorian years]
- Size: Medium.
- Attack: No changes.
- Hit Die: 1d8 Monstrous Humanoid, replaced with first class hit die if trained or a player character.
- Abilities: As racial entry.
- Feats: As racial entry.
- Special Qualities: As racial entry.
- First Toughening [21-24 Jherracz years :: 72-84 Gregorian years]
- Attack: No changes.
- Size: Medium. While the Ghuvor's musculature becomes denser, and a few inches of height are added (1d4+1 inches) along with a few extra pounds (5d10+10), they do not increase in size category.
- Hit Dice: +1d8 Monstrous Humanoid. This provides a +1 bonus to base attack and gives the Ghuvor a +2 bonus to their base Reflex and Will saving throws. additionally, it provides (2 + Int modifier) additional skill points. This hit dice increase is taken at the next available increase in level, in place of whatever class level would normally be taken. Additionally, when the Ghuvor turns 22 or 23 (76-80 Gregorian) they must take an additional Monstrous Humanoid level to a total of 2d8 racial hit dice, increasing the bonus to base attack to +2 and the bonus to base Reflex and Will to +3.
- Abilities: No changes.
- Feats: No additional feats.
- Special Qualities: No changes.
- Adulthood [25-26 Jherracz years :: 85-91 Gregorian years]
- Size: Medium. An additional height increase (1d6+1 inches) and weight increase (8d10+10 pounds) marks the swift beginning and end of one of the many awkward periods of adjustment to rapid size change. This is one of the least severe periods of growth outside of infancy and the late-life stages of growth.
- Attack: No changes.
- Hit Dice: No change, however a level adjustment must be taken in place of the next class level. Their bodies undergo a more psychological than physical change, as they outgrow the short-sightedness of their youth.
- Abilities: No changes.
- Feats: No changes.
- Special Qualities: 30 foot increase in the effective range of special vision type.
- Mature Adulthood [27-30 Jherracz years :: 92-105 Gregorian years]
- Size: Large. As large-sized creatures, Mature Adult Ghuvor are easier to hit, and find medium-sized or smaller targets harder to hit, incurring -1 penalties to AC and Attack rolls, as well as suffer -4 penalties to Hide and Move Silently checks. Their size, however, makes it easier to grapple smaller targets, giving them a +4 size bonus to all grapple checks. Height should increase to at least nine feet, though no more than 14 feet. Weight, additionally, increases from just above 500 to nearly two tons, depending on the individual and their respective growth. At this point, growth is relative to either DM or Player preference, just so long as it does not exceed an inch of height a day.
- Attack: Claw damage increases to 1d8, and bite damage increases to 1d6. If the racial subtype provides a tail attack, its damage improves as if by one size category increase.
- Hit Dice: Another Monstrous Humanoid level gives a total of 3d8 hit dice, increasing base attack by 1 and base Fortitude by 1. (Racial base attack +3, racial saves: Fortitude +1, Reflex +3, Will +3, (2 + Int bonus) skill points) Additionally, between age 28 and 29 ( 96-100 Gregorian) they must take an additional Monstrous Humanoid level, giving them a total of 4d8 hit dice and improving their attack and saving throws. (Racial base attack +4, racial saves: Fortitude +1, Reflex +4, Will +4, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, bonus ability point)
- Abilities: +8 Strength, +4 Constitution, -2 Dexterity. Coming into their own, those capable enough to survive to this age enjoy the fruits of their labors, growing massively and, more importantly, growing powerful.
- Feats: The Monstrous Humanoid levels gained in this age group give the growing Ghuvor an additional feat.
- Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 1/- at age 27, increasing to Damage Reduction 2/- at 28. The thickening hide of the Ghuvor, as its size increases, becomes able to turn the damage of minor attacks and better absorb the some of the impact of stronger weapons.
- Old [31-174 Jherracz years :: 106-599 Gregorian years]
- Size: Height increases an additional foot or two, depending on the individual, and weight increases by a few dozen pounds, most of this in muscle density. Size category remains unchanged.
- Attack: Claw damage increases to 1d10, and tail damage (if any) improves by one size category.
- Hit Dice: Old Ghuvor undergo a number of increases at indefinite intervals, no two of which can be closer than one year (1250 Gregorian days) apart.
- Hit Dice increases to 5d8. (Racial base attack +5, Fortitude +1, Reflex +4, Will +4, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Level Adjustment increases to +2.
- Hit Dice increases to 6d8. (Racial base attack +6, Fortitude +2, Reflex +5, Will +5, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, additional feat)
- Hit Dice increase to 7d8. (Racial base attack +7, Fortitude +2, Reflex +5, Will +5, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Level Adjustment increases to +3.
- Hit Dice increases to 8d8. (Racial base attack +8, Fortitude +2, Reflex +6, Will +6, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, bonus ability point)
- Hit Dice increases to 9d8. (Racial base attack +9, Fortitude +3, Reflex +6, Will +6, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, additional feat)
- Hit Dice increases to 10d8. (Racial base attack +10, Fortitude +3, Reflex +7, Will +7, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Level Adjustment increases to +4.
- Abilities: Upon turning a century old (342 Gregorian), Old Ghuvors increase their Strength and Constitution by +2, and their Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma by +1 each. As their mastery of their own bodies increases, so too do they grow in ability. Their age also brings cunning and grace.
- Feats: Additional feats are gained by increases in racial HD at 6 HD and 9 HD.
- Special Qualities: Damage Reduction increases to 3/- when their level adjustment increases to +3, to 4/- when their racial hit dice increases to 9d8, and to 5/- when their level adjustment increases to +4. Additionally, they are also treated as being a creature of Huge size for the purposes of grappling or wielding oversize weapons. Their carrying capacity is also increased by 1-1/2 times.
- Venerable [175-200 Jherracz years :: 600-686 Gregorian years]
- Size: Increases to Huge. Ghuvor fortunate enough to reach this age category are blessed with a size and physical prowess unheard of in any of the other races. Their AC and Attack penalties increase to -2, however their abilities increase as stated below. Height increases from 16 feet to nearly 20 feet in the tallest individuals, and weight increases from just over two tons to as much as ten tons in the largest.
- Attack: Claw damage increases to 2d6, and a tail-slam attack is granted even if one was not present before, either at 2d8 damage or the current damage is improved by one size, whichever is greater.
- Hit Dice: Venerable Ghuvor undergo a number of increases at indefinite intervals, no two of which can be closer than three years (10 Gregorian) apart.
- Level Adjustment increases to +5.
- Hit Dice increases to 11d8. (Racial base attack +11, Fortitude +3, Reflex +7, Will +7, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Hit Dice increases to 12d8. (Racial base attack +12, Fortitude +4, Reflex +8, Will +8, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, additional feat, additional ability point)
- Hit Dice increases to 13d8. (Racial base attack +13, Fortitude +4, Reflex +8, Will +8, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Hit Dice increases to 14d8. (Racial base attack +14, Fortitude +4, Reflex +9, Will +9, (2 + Int bonus) skill points)
- Level Adjustment increases to +6.
- Hit Dice increases to 15d8. (Racial base attack +15, Fortitude +5, Reflex +10, Will +10, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, additional feat)
- Hit Dice increases to 16d8. (Racial base attack +16, Fortitude +5, Reflexes +10, Will +10, (2 + Int bonus) skill points, additional ability point)
- Abilities: Size-based ability bonuses increase by +8 to Strength, +4 to Constitution, and -2 to Dexterity. Additionally, the bonus to existing Natural AC increases to +3. Their grapple bonus increases to +8, and their penalty to Hide and Move Silently checks increases to -8.
- Feats: Additional feats from Monstrous Humanoid levels are gained at 12 HD and again at 15 HD.
- Special Qualities: Damage Reduction increases to 6/- when their level adjustment increases to +5, to 7/- when their racial hit dice increases to 12d8, then 8/- when their racial hit dice increases to 13d8, then increases to 9/- when their level adjustment increases to +6, and finally their Damage Reduction increases to 10/- when their racial hit dice increases to 16d8. Additionally, they are treated as Gargantuan creatures for the purpose of wielding oversize weapons, and their carrying capacity remains 1-1/2 times that of an ordinary creature their size.
- Ancient [201+ Jherracz years :: 687+ Gregorian years]
- Size: No change in size category or height; however, the older the Ghuvor, the greater their overall density. In this age category, their weight increases until they weigh in at almost 16 tons.
- Attack: No changes.
- Hit Dice: If left to their own devices, a Ghuvor could accrue as many as 25 Monstrous Humanoid levels in total, with a total level adjustment of +10, but only four Ghuvor in recorded history have ever lived to be that old, only two of which had any cultural significance. After this point, the abilities gained are based solely on age, DM (or player, theoretically) preference, within the limits of rules (or house rules). Most assuredly, the older they get, the wiser, but some might choose to consider such aged Ghuvor to be effectively immortal unless slain. (Though they would die of old age if the campaign lasted long enough)
- Abilities: At least +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Optional increases include: +4 to Strength and Constitution, and +2 to Dexterity. After enough time, a Ghuvor could effectively counteract the effect their massive growth has had on their ability to exercise their fine motor skills.
- Feats: Feats would be gained at 18 HD, 21 HD, and 24 HD. Also, at this age, a new feat could be selected with every other additional level adjustment. (This is, of course, optional)
- Special Qualities: While the Damage Reduction inherent in earlier age categories does not increase beyond 10/-, they could well develop enhanced racial vision, or even tremorsense or blindsight (as the chance of natural blindness increases significantly in this age category) as a result of their innumerable years of training.
While this table serves as a guideline for core-campaign mechanics of the aging of Ghuvor, some DMs might favor different changes, either restricting the growth of or permitting the continued growth of the Ghuvor race. The presence of magic might allow the Ghuvor to grow, theoretically, to preposterous sizes, even Colossal, though the most these massive beings would probably do is eat and sleep. (Much like the Terrasque)
However, the bulk of Ghuvor NPCs will be in either the Medium or Large categories, and almost all PCs are recommended to stay within the stage of Early Adulthood unless the campaign permits them to attain epic levels, as it would be impractical to expect a person to have played through more than six hundred years, accumulating class levels (probably at least thirty) while also gaining 25 hit dice and a level adjustment of +10. They'd be ECL 65 creatures, powerful enough to challenge immortals and demi-gods on even terms, alone, even if they lacked the ability to use magic. Besides, a lot can happen in 600 years, and who can say if the rest of the party would make it past 200? This information is more for the courtesy of DMs creating powerful NPC adversaries (or, potentially, allies) for their players.
Below are listed permissible half-breed Ghuvor. A DM may choose to either prohibit the use of these races or simply to limit their own use of the races to NPCs, as they can be difficult to roleplay.