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The Sky Climbers
The Xei are a race that exists almost outside of the world in which they live. Theirs is a culture far advanced when measured against those of their primitive cousins. So distant is culture that most other races consider the stories of Xei technology to be either magic or mere legend. While most Xei would never deign to leave their continent of Haibekht, there are a few that ignore the stigma of the lesser races by forgoing the luxuries of their skyscrapers and modern conveniences in order to meddle in the affairs of the Rukaiin.
Personality: Xei see the world through a lens of impassivity. While not coldly logical, disguising their true emotions is a defense-mechanism exercised when outside of their cities or in unfamiliar situations. The most common philosophy among the Sky Climbers is that of the Observer, allowing as much to pass them by as they may, with interference occurring in only the most severe instances. This is the norm for Xei, however there are those whom others of their kind would consider "disturbed", who feel the inherent need to dwell amongst the other races, or to interfere in political affairs or even simple personal matters, but these people are rare enough that there exists only a single Asylum in the city nearest the Rukaean land bridge to house the ones that have been identified within Xei borders. (NB: It is worth pointing out here that Xei consider it treasonous to export any of their technology outside of their borders. All Xei PCs are limited to the prevalent level of technology in Rukaea. In addition, while it is felonious to do so, some Xei technology does make its way to outsiders)
Physical Description: Xei are the most radically different in appearance among the variations of Ygneaujkol. The average Xei stands anywhere from four and a half to five and a half feet in height, and weigh anywhere from ninety-five to a hundred and twenty pounds. While similar in height to their distant relatives, they possess a unique build; their torsos are relatively lightly built, and shorter in comparison to their arms and legs, and their skulls have a larger horizontal diameter, giving them features just slightly broader than the Eastern Jherron. In purely aesthetic terms, this means that their eyes are larger, though their mouths are still generally narrow. Their facial features are most akin to latter-dynastic classical Egyptian art, excluding the conical posterior-cranial feature predominant in many of the phaoronic depictions. Males and females generally have similar builds, as difficult manual labor befits very few Xei; however the distinguishing features are noticeable. Men possess lithe pectoral builds and slightly broader shoulders, where women, while less well-endowed than the average Rukaiin, possess a prominent bosom. Xei mean usually wear their hair short, or at least managed away from their eyes, with neatly trimmed facial hair growing usually on the chin and upper lip. (Full beards aren't unheard of, but are considered unruly) Women tend to wear their hair much longer, managing it in whatever way betides them. Xei typically wear loose-fit clothing, not unlike togas (for men) or sarongs (for women).
Relations: Xei treat one another with a polite distance unless reasonably acquainted, though they are quite amicable to those with whom they relate. As the other races often ignore the existence of the Xei, the Xei tend to regard the other races with mild disinterest, often only turning an eye to them in a scholarly sense. They consider it their duty to allow the other races to find their own course, as the history of the Xei tells of a time when they attempted to accelerate the development of one unnamed civilization that fell into chaos and ruin. When justly inclined, a Xei is permitted to leave Haibehkt for an indefinite period of time, and then tends to treat the outside world's people just as they would treat people within: common courtesy. Of course, traditions and cultures differ, so there is generally a period of adjustment. (If the Xei actually bothers to learn them at all)
Alignment: The Xei's days of war are long-since behind them, and as such they have come to embrace peace as their mainstay. As such, their alignments tend very strongly towards good, and their society generally causes a lawful slant to the otherwise neutral-inclined race. Some tremendously impassive Xei fall within the range of true neutrality, and even rarer are the Xei whose egocentrism has degraded into base selfishness and greed. These vile souls are far less predictable, and to find a chaotic evil Xei is all but unheard of.
Xei Lands: The entire continent of Haibehkt, which rarely (if ever) appears on most of the Imperial-age maps of the world, is the sole home of the Xei. While their race is not tremendously numerous, it is not due to a lack of success but a long and steady abundance of it. Families do not require large amounts of children to ensure agricultural success, the infant mortality rate is below 1 in 10,000 before the first year of life, so the population stays at a manageable amount throughout most of the important dates of play for the campaign setting. Xei that choose to live outside of Haibehkt are still counted in an absentee census, pending announcements of their return or expiration.
Religion: For all of the advancements the Xei have made in the fields of science, medicine, literature and the arts, they are not beyond the concept of spiritual fulfillment. The Xei pay homage to distant ancestors or historical figures that had elevated themselves to the equivalent status of minor deities, and also recognize the virtues wielded by some of the outsider deities. They also believe that what awaits them beyond this life is an ascendancy into a greater mind, similar to an ecclesiastic version of the supposed Akashic Library. They believe in the potential for reincarnation, but that it is not necessarily the path of all souls. A fraction of the population, generally those of the medical field, do not find solace in faith, as death is an everyday part of their lives, and their philosophy is usually materialistic; what we see is all that is reality, and that death is final and permanent. On the whole, most Xei doctors also refuse to openly acknowledge authentic cases of massive tissue or limb regeneration among their own people, and the rarest of rare, full resurrection and restoration of life after the point of death when the body grows cold. Typical Xei monasteries or temples are the least furnished buildings in a city, being of smoothly polished stone or metal, possessing many cushions for seated prayer, and many epitaphs and bas reliefs int he wall for standing prayer and reverence. Worship is personal and individual, though priests and priestesses occasionally organize their efforts toward a greater purpose.
Language: Xei speak their own language, which is one of the few non-phonetic languages. It is comprised of a series of stylized pictographs, unified into a set of character representations that can either be stand-alone words, or combined to form more complex ideas in a single square. This is not unlike the Chinese written language, except that the spoken language is neither tonal nor monosyllabic. Xei are readily able to speak the languages of nearly every other creature that shares a similar vocal build, but are physically unable to reproduce the songs of Deep Uqur.
Names: Xei possess merely two official names - A personal name, and a family name. The personal name usually bears meaning, but due to an odd quirk of fashion, most Xei names are written with Jherron phonetic writing, and not with Xei characters. This being said, most parents choose names for their children based on their sound rather than their meaning, though some names are also false-cognates in the Xei language, so a name might be completely misinterpreted by outsiders. For this reason, some Xei also take up titles to avoid the use of potentially embarrassing names. These titles may be trades, habits, mannerisms or even a simple physical trait. Xei are rare enough in Rukaea that encountering two with the same title are nigh impossible.
Adventures: Xei are susceptible to wanderlust, especially when they crest the milestone of adulthood. Most simply treat themselves to tours of the vast wilderness of Haibehkt, or visit the other great cities of their continent before returning home. Some, on the other hand, yearn for the life of an adventurer, or even a great hero. These Xei rationalize that if they do not make the Xei presence known to outsiders, that there will be no great legacy to leave behind should the unthinkable happen. Besides, to struggle for one's fortune has a certain honest nobility to it.
Xei Racial Traits
- +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution. The Xei consider theirs to be a power not of the body, but of the mind; and it shows.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, Xei have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Xei base land speed is 40 feet. (Eight squares) The average Xei may not have the endurance to be a long-distance runner, but their light frames and long limbs give them more fluidity and a natural celerity.
- Keen Sight: Xei are better able to distinguish minor details upon close inspection of objects. The DM may choose to discretely roll a Search check against the DC of a document, illustration, or relief in order to point out something relevant (or perhaps threatening) to the PC.
- +2 racial bonus to Will saves vs. Enchantment and Charm effects.
- +2 inherent bonus to a single Knowledge skill of the character's choice, after which it will become a permanent class skill. Not every Xei is an expert in a field, but they have an almost universal interest in knowledge.
- +2 racial bonus to a single Perform skill of the characters' choice, after which it will become a permanent class skill. Xei youths are tutored in many areas of the arts as a part of their compulsory education programs.
- Automatic Languages: Xei, Common. Bonus Languages: Aelirron, Cheterron, Derron, Epanuqucz (Shallows Uqur), Kaelaen, Kala'i'orron, Kurron, Shaikurron, Vaenar, Zhong'Aelirron.
- Favored Class: Bard (Low/No magic campaigns), Wizard (Standard campaigns). Xei pride themselves on their intellectual pursuits. A multiclass Xei’s Bard (or Wizard) class does not count when determining whether they take an experience point penalty for multiclassing. (See PHB 3.5, pp 60)