Shadowkin (3.5e Race)
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Shadowkin (sometimes just called Kin) are the only common race who call the Plane of Shadow home. They are a race of outcasts, distrusted yet honorable. Their long vigil in the darkness has blessed them with magic and grace, marking them as different from the other mortal races, making them the outcast of society when they venture beyond their shadowy lands. They are unjustly blamed for the problems of the world, due to their affinity for the powers of their homeland, and thus have sympathy for others who are ostracized from their worlds. (Author's Note: I realize there are flaws here, but please discuss them with me via email or on this talk page before implementing them. So, don't change anything yet. Thanks! Also, this is meant only to be used with the "Nifelheim" Campaign Setting, not yet finished. I'll post it when it's ready.)
Kin are nothing if not accepting, due to their understanding of how cruel society can be. To a Kin, no person is ugly enough, strange enough, or sinful enough to not be welcomed or forgiven. They know just what it is like to be unjustly treated, and so seek to never inflict such injustice on others. They are not a people famous for judging others, and rarely take up positions that require them to impose their beliefs on those who do not follow them already. However, they will try to prove the value of their beliefs quietly, often by letting philosophy guide their actions more than other races. Shadowkin value generosity and hospitality, yet also consider self-guardedness a virtue. They are quiet and thoughtful more often than loud or rash, but just like every population, they have their black sheep. Few people outside a Kin’s clan or race ever earn a Kin’s complete trust; they may come to be good friends, but Shadowkin rarely confide themselves in others, or choose to rely on another’s aid. They are reliable themselves, however. A Shadowkin who swears an oath or makes a promise can be counted on to uphold it no matter what, and a Kin will defend those he loves till death, and occasionally, beyond. Their society is famous for its music and craftsmanship, and their warriors are just as skilled and graceful as the elves. They are also renowned for their use of silver weapons, as such implements are often the only things capable of harming some forms of undead native to the Plane of Shadow.
Shadowkin range from just under five feet to six feet in height. They often weigh between 100 and 180 pounds, standing slightly shorter and slimmer than humans, much as half-elves do. In fact, it is believed that they descended from half-elves at one point, as they appear almost human in appearance, but are often more effeminate and graceful in appearance, and posses slightly pointed ears, even less prominent than a half-elf’s. The men are slightly heavier and taller than women on average, with slightly broader shoulders and builds than women. A Shadowkin’s main distinguishing feature is their pale skin and hair. They have extremely fair, pale skin, and their hair is usually either pale blond, black, grey, or white. In time, all Kin gain white hair, as all other colours gradually fade until it becomes pure, snowy white at age seventy. They live to be around 400 years old, and mature at about age 16. They age much as humans do until their mid to late thirties, then stay at that physical age until the last hundred years of their life, during which they age much like humans, but at half the rate, reaching venerable status at approximately 370 years of age. Their eyes are dark, ranging from dark green and blue to black. They are slimmer than humans, on average, but are not as fragile as elves. They instead have long, lean muscles, much as a trained dancer or acrobat would. But this diminished frame does not posses as much sheer power as other races, instead favoring extreme control, endurance, and grace over brute strength. Shadowkin often sport a clan tattoo of some kind, usually a single rune or marking on the chest, but occasionally youths will posses a virtual mosaic of markings and designs all over their bodies. They favor simple styles in clothing and hair. Hair is often worn long in males, and facial hair is uncommon, but not unheard of among adults.
Shadowkin have a hard time getting along with other races; due to their strange gifts and natures, they are often mistrusted and blamed for most troubles in the world (the large numbers of undead, the unnatural amounts of negatively energized areas, the presence of necromancers.) Kin are occasionally disliked for their almost perpetual youth, which on a relative scale, is greater than even the elves longevity. Each Kin usually tries to find some way to fit into the world, and in many small towns they are surprisingly accepted more readily than elsewhere. In such a setting, Kin often are in close enough proximity to individual people on a daily basis that others come to know them better, and thus judge them on their individual characters more than by race. In large cities, Shadowkin often form small sub-communities much as elves do. They get along more easily with elves and half-elves than with other races due to their cultural and physical similarities, although there is still mistrust due to their homeland‘s reputation for evil beings and forces. Half-orcs see them as alien beings, and the fair-minded dwarves consider them strange but good-natured. Humans and gnomes are often the worst culprits of racism, with humans occasionally denying a Shadowkin service on the point of race alone. Halflings simply see them as another curiosity in an already interesting world. Younger Kin can disguise themselves as humans or half-elves, with varying degrees of success. Those individuals born with black hair have the most successful records of said deceptions. Younger Kin have been known to undergo such a disguise so as to avoid scathing treatment by shop keeps and innkeepers.
Shadowkin usually tend towards neutrality in regards to law and chaos; they value order, but encourage one to follow his intuition when in doubt of a law’s morality. They tend to be good rather than evil, favoring life and generosity more than selfishness or death. Those few Kin who are evil, however, are often more dangerous than others due to their gifts, and can bring ideals and forces of a soul wreathed in darkness formidably to bear.
Shadowkin villages and city-states exist on the Plane of Shadow, and are not easily accessible by normal methods, and even Kin have no inborn means of reaching the Shadow Plane. They can be reached by means of a permanent portal, a Plane Shift or Shadow Walk spell, a Gate, or a naturally occurring rift between dimensions. The villages themselves are simple yet elegant constructions of wood and stone, and are well-lit against their dim homeland. They are scattered some distance from each other, as there are not that many of them, and thus makes travel between them perilous, even for a native. On the material plane, Kin often form homes for themselves in small villages and towns, and gather in communities on the outskirts of large cities. Shadowkin in such lands are often craftsmen, demonstrating their skill at silversmithing, weaving, tailoring, and woodworking. Those with the appropriate talents and skills find themselves occupations as healers or bards, and a select few join the Reapers in their hunt for undeath and its supporters.
The main god of the Shadowkin is Logos, an ancient deity once worshiped by elves and humans as the creator of the other gods and the world, especially the beauty of nature and all that is good. Logos has long been forgotten by the material races, however, and was dropped in favor of more personal and direct racial gods. Kin still worship Logos as the One True God, and believe that he is responsible for the existence of the other, lesser beings. A Kin would have to be a fool to deny the power of the other deities, however, as their interventions on the Earth have been far more overt than Logos’, and to offend them or their followers is both suicidal and rude. They usually will bow or offer piety to the other deities out of respect for Logos’ creations and the god’s own power, and usually take little or no offense if the guest of a Kin refuses to worship Logos in their homes, instead allowing the visitor the option to follow his or her own patron or beliefs.
Shadowkin speak Darken, a language vaguely similar in structure as Elven. It uses the Darken alphabet , and is known for its precision. Each object has its own name; a stick may be called a stick, but there are also specific, common words for each kind of stick, be it crooked, broken, warped, long, or short, ect. Types such as ash, elm, or oak are not part of this single name idea, each having its own designation in the Darken tongue, creating a plethora of adjectives, some abstract and some detailed. This type of speech allows one to describe things in a way unlike any other tongue, and has been known for some time as a source of some of the most beautiful and moving poems in existence, second only to Elven literature in beauty, but often more appealing to the common man than esoteric Elven works. Darken literature is also the leading source of information on both the Undead and the nature of the Shadow Plane, and is often taught to young Reapers and Clerics. Kin also often speak Common, Elven, Dwarven, and Draconic, wishing to increase both their relations with the more welcoming races and their knowledge of magic and the material plane, from which they have been apart for so long a time. They have a limited telepathy ability with which they communicate between each other for private conversations, and with their most dangerous natural enemies: the more intelligent undead, thus learning their motives and methods in a way no other race can. However, Kin are loath to use the skill to communicate with other beings, considering it to be a breach of privacy unless the other party gives permission. Shadowkin also learn the speech of other potential foes and allies of the Shadow realm, adding Infernal, Abyssal, and Celestial to their repertoires.
A Shadowkin possesses given, chosen, clan, and tribal names. A Kin chooses a name much as an elf does, leaving behind his or her given, childhood name in the minds of their friends and elders. Each chosen name is something picked for its meaning or tradition, often in honor of an ancestor or a value held close to the individual. Clan names are passed down among families, and are often earned titles of the first ancestor of the clan, the one that they trace their lineage from. Tribal names are not often used outside of Shadowkin society, but are valuable among the Kin themselves, as they tell which village or region they belong to, a distinction without meaning outside of Shadowkin society . A Kin can be stripped of his or her tribal name if ostracized, and forbidden to use their clan name. However, the clan name itself remains as a mark of shame to the family, demonstrating their elders’ fault in raising the individual.
Erethil, Rerem, Myriddyn, Laurus, Thami, Austallil, Artin, Soren, Finn, Fianna, Mithos.
Amaryllis, Felosial, Kira, Tyrrill, Sannl, Lyla, Artin, Chrysll, Daja, Trisanna, Martel.
Clan Names (Common Translations)
Nighteye, Stormblade, Soulsinger, Lovecraft, Lightbringer, Waveaxe, Brightsong. Soulforge, Tearstone, Flamekey, Dreambard, Rosesong, Stepsorrow, Dusksword.
Denaan, Corrus, Fusalir, Vrohain, Shakkan.
- +6 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, +2 Strength: Kin are more agile and graceful than other races, and are in touch with their “sixth sense” more than other mortals. However, they do not build the same sheer muscle mass as other races, and thus are not as strong.
- Medium: As medium creatures, Shadowkin have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Shadowkin base land speed is 30 feet.
- Darkvision and Lowlight Vision: Shadowkin can see in the dark up to sixty feet, and can distinguish colour so long as light is present, at a range twice what is given for humans. Darkvision is black and white only without light, but is otherwise like normal sight, and Kin can do just fine without any light at all.
- Voice of the Night: Shadowkin gain a +2 racial bonus on all checks involving Perform: Sing. Also, Shadowkin with 3 ranks in Perform: Sing can split their voice while singing to give themselves harmony. However, this is a arbitrary ability; it provides no further bonus on Perform checks. All Shadowkin have hauntingly beautiful voices.
- Shadow Resistance: +6 racial bonus on saving throws against negative energy and death effects. If no saving throw is normally allowed, such as in the case of the Energy Drain spell, then the Shadowkin gain a saving throw against the effect, albeit at a -6 penalty. Shadowkin are naturally resistant against the powers of negative energy.
- Weapon Familiarity: Shadowkin may treat the longbow, shortspear, Wakizashi, Kodachi, and Katana (Shadowkin shortsword, longsword, and bastard sword, respectively) as simple weapons in the case of the first, including the first two swords, and martial in regard to the last, rather than martial and exotic weapons.
- Clear Thoughts: Shadowkin gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Kin are trained to have ordered, focused minds, and thus can more easily resist mental invasions.
- Telepathy: Shadowkin have the ability to communicate telepathically with any living creature within 100 feet. This communication can consist of words (whose meanings transcend language barriers, eliminating confusion. Each being instantly translates what one person says into their most familiar tongue, without conscious thought or requiring knowledge of the original language), feelings, or sensory perceptions. If the target is unwilling, they can attempt a Will saving throw to block the establishment of a link. This save DC is the same as for a 0-level spell, Intelligence based. This ability does work on intelligent undead, but not mindless beings, constructs, plants, plant creatures, or any animal with an intelligence of less than 3.
- Shadow Influence: Shadowkin are considered to be Native Outsiders in regard to all effects affecting such creatures, and Humanoids in regard to those relevant effects, such as charm person. They also show up on a detect shadow or detect magic effect, and can be harmed by a dispel shadow effect. Shadowkin are mortal, but are permanently touched by the powers and aura of the Shadow Plane, thus rendering them vulnerable to effects harming both outsiders and humanoids. They also have arcane energies in their very beings, and thus have a faint magical aura.
- Soulcasting: Shadowkin have an innate arcane spellcasting ability unlike that of any other race. Having spent so long in an area of high energy influence, and having used magic to defend themselves for such a long time, the Shadowkin have evolved to become infused with arcane energies: it is born into their very souls. Soulcasting is different from other methods of casting, however. Soulcasters do not have spells per day, but instead “Aura Points”, which represent the energy remaining in the Soulcaster’s mind each day, similar to psionics, but different from it as well. Soulcasters must have a full night’s sleep (8 hours), and then meditate for thirty minutes to draw energy from their souls each day. All Shadowkin, regardless of class, posses 5 aura points. Unless they have levels in a Soulcasting class, however, this number never goes up. This is also separate from any spells gained from other spellcasting classes. It is not uncommon for a Kin to become a Wizard or Bard in order to gain new spells and cast differently, and they are the only race that can choose to be a Sorcerer. All other races are born with the talent for Sorcery, and develop it eventually as they learn to be more efficient in dividing up their power for the day; Kin may choose this path as a different way of casting, a different “magic philosophy”, so to speak. Thus, both a Shadowkin Fighter and a Shadowkin Wizard have 5 aura points and the following spells in addition to (and separate from) all regular class features: light, detect magic, mage hand, mending, detect undead, hide from undead. Each 0-level spell costs 1 Aura Point (AP), and each 1-level spell costs 2. Unless they are of a Soulcasting class, they never gain more AP or more spells other than those listed here; these abilities represent inborn power and childhood training to control said power that all Kin have. A Soulcaster who runs out of AP becomes fatigued until at least one point is regained. Points are regenerated by sleeping 8 hours, which fully restores all Aura Points, or by spending time in any consecrated, desecrated, hallowed, or unhallowed area, at the rate of one per hour. The alignment of any such area does not have to match yours, as these areas are ones of intense spiritual power, and strengthen all such abilities. Soulcasting spells posses no verbal, somatic, or material components (they are cast in the same way as spell-like abilities.)They do have displays similar to those of Psionics, allowing Spellcraft to identify the ability being used, however. The default display is a visual glow of silver light that provides no illumination around the hand or Arcane Focus of the Kin. Casting time is one standard action unless a longer casting time is mentioned in the spell descriptor. However, if a spell calls for an XP component, a unique or costly arcane material component (such as the gem for Trap the Soul) or an arcane focus (or divine focus, in the case of divine spells cast in this arcane form), they must provide it. The default Arcane Focus for Soulcasting spells requiring Divine Focuses is a Shadowkin rune or symbol; this is usually the tribal marking tattooed on the Kin’s body, often a small mark over the heart, or on the arm. These marks, which are standard Darken runes, can be written on a nearby object and then used, if no mark is available.
- Automatic Languages: Darken and Common. Bonus Languages: Elven, Dwarven, Draconic, Celestial, Infernal, and Abyssal.
- Favored class: Any Soulcasting. A Shadowkin’s Soulcasting class (Tuatha or Soulcaster) does not count when determining if a Kin character takes an XP penalty when multiclassing.
- This has mainly been explained in the text. When I DM a Nifleheim game, I let players pick this, rather than be random. I'll put this up once i get it written out, for those who want it.