Dullahan, Variant (5e Race)
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Dullahans are mostly humanoid in appearance, but very distinctly have a floating, disembodied head that is separate from their body.
Their skin ranges from blue to purple, somewhat dark and unsaturated. They are slightly taller than humans on average, with naturally broad, imposing frames. Even if a dullahan can have low muscle and body fat, they rarely look skinny due to the width and depth of their skeletal structure. Their otherwise human face is distinct for having an incredibly wide mouth that extends from one side of their head to the other. Dullahans can unhinge their jaw to open their gaping mouth to an impossible width.
Dullahans have numerous markings across their body made of thick, tough tissue. This tissue is part of a series of organs that are spread throughout the dullahan's body and head. These organs are a very important part of dullahan biology as they contain a single multi-dimensional space that perpetually links a dullahan's head to its torso and limbs. All air, nutrients, and brain signals travel through this space as a pathway, so even when a dullahan's arm or leg is severed, it can still move around. This unique biological phenomenon also happens to make the dullahan immune to nerve damage, an important quality for a creature to have, especially for those who may fall from a horse many times in their life. The special tissue is exposed to the surface as a dullahan exhales through this network, adding another unsightly quirk to their appearance. They do not appear to breathe, as dullahans constantly inhale and exhale at the same time.
Dullahans, like all fey, trace their history back to the Feywild. While many fey races formed civilizations, dullahans formed tribes and clans. Nomadic dullahans in groups of as little as ten or as large as a hundred individuals migrated through the realm at random. Each clan, completely detached from the others, developed their own rules and morals. Many kept to themselves, building an entirely self-reliant society that would neither accept or offer help. Others protected nature from danger, either out of a sense of duty or simply because they needed what the natural world could give them. However, a noticeable minority became roving bandits and raiders, ready to pillage and kill so they could steal what they needed. These dullahan clans gave their entire race an infamous reputation.
Some dullahan bandit groups conglomerated into larger roves of barbarians advancing in danger from nuisances to genuine threats towards Eladrin civilizations. Angered by their impudence, the entire race was punished through banishment from the Feywilds. In their mass relocation, the dullahan were separated from their clans, destroying their culture in the process.
In the present day, dullahans rarely form large clans and tribes as they did in the past. They instead live a nomadic life as incessant travelers. They migrate across the world, eventually finding another dullahan, courting them, and riding together for a few years before living separately once more. However, not all dullahans are condemned to this fate; some dullahan clans survived in exile, finding each other and reuniting on the other side. These clans have a strong sense of community, reinforced by the charismatic and trustworthy nature of their leaders. As before, the morality of these clans varies from place to place. The collective response to the dullahan race is quite different amongst the mortals of the Material Plane compared to those residing in the Feywild. Their lonely nature and intimidating appearance mean many humans treat them as otherworldly monsters.
The one major defining trait that all groups of dullahan share are the importance they place on a dullahan's steed. While they usually ride horses, each clan may have collections of any number of different steeds, especially those suited for their environment. Dullahan clans have ridden on the backs of camels, musk-ox, griffons, and at least one dullahan has been seen riding on a strange, two-wheeled vehicle that combines the arcane with the mechanical. Regardless of what they ride, each dullahan has their own steed from the day they come of age, and the life of their steed is more important than their own. No dullahan from any clan will break bread with a dullahan who lost their steed. Fortunately, the spell many dullahans know to bond with their steed extends the steed's natural lifespan to match their own.
Dullahan names largely sound like traditional Sylvan names to an outsider, but those fluent in Sylvan will recognize a name as being common or exclusive to dullahans only.
Male: Ultán, Raghnall, Tiernán, Eolann, Dagda
Female: Lasair, Doireann, Mairin, Eimhear, Siobhan
You've got a disembodied, floating head!
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. Dullahans are relatively quick to mature but are long-lived. You reach adulthood at 20 but can live to be 400 years of age.
Alignment. Dullahans tend towards true neutral, but are relatively evenly spread.
Size. When including their head, dullahans are slightly taller than humans, being about 5-6 feet tall. Your size is Medium. Your head alone is less than a foot tall. Its size is Tiny.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Fey. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put you to sleep. Your creature type is both fey and humanoid.
Mounted Lifestyle / Outcast. Choose one of the following traits that best describe your dullahan:
- Mounted Lifestyle: Being raised in dullahan society, you are bonded to an animal you use as a steed. You know the call steed cantrip and start with a mount already bonded to you. You may choose from the list on the spell page, or your DM may allow you to use a different steed. You also have proficiency in the Animal Handling skill.
- Outcast: For whatever reason, you don't have a mount. Perhaps it died, and you were never able to bond to a new one or you couldn't bond to one in the first place. You have an unusual perspective granted from your status as an outcast, and your fey powers have manifested differently. You know the druidcraft cantrip and you are proficient in the Insight skill.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, and a Dullahan dialect of Sylvan. Your dialect can generally only be understood by those who speak Sylvan fluently, and you will come across as boorish.
Subrace. Dullahans are almost exclusively of the True Dullahan subrace, but should you want to play a truly headless horseman, consider the Cursed Dullahan subrace.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Blindsight. Dullahans, who spend a lot of time with their head separated from their body, developed powerful spatial awareness so their headless body isn't helpless. Both your body and your head each have 10 feet of blindsight, your body is completely blind past this radius. Dullahans are not consciously aware of what is in this radius, mostly responding to their blindsight instinctively, and are incapable of detecting finer details such as writing on paper.
Detached Head. A dullahan's head is separate from their body and has the following effects.
A Dullahan's Head
Your head is separate from your body. The following is in effect:
- Your head can occupy the same space as your body. When doing so, your head cannot be targeted. Your head is considered a Tiny creature otherwise.
- Your head and body can move simultaneously in combat: whenever your body moves, your head can as well. As listed above, your body has a base walking speed of 30 feet, and your head has a flying speed of 30 feet, however, it cannot fly higher than 10 feet from the ground.
- A Dullahan knows the relative position of its head to its body at any given time.
- Your body is blind, albeit with limited blindsight, as detailed above. Only your head has actual vision.
- When you cast a spell, you can cast the spell from your head, or your body.
- Your head's Armor Class is 8 + your Constitution + your Dexterity, regardless of armor.
- Your head has temporary hit points equal to twice your character level, and are regained when you complete a short or long rest.
- Aside from the temporary hit points, your head and body share your hit point maximum. When your head has no temporary hit points remaining, it has vulnerability to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
- Your body does not need to breathe, and can survive in an airless environment as long as your head has access to air.
- At the discretion of your DM, certain spells that affect your head may also affect your body and vice-versa. For instance, enlarge/reduce affects both, but entangle would not, unless both are in the spell's radius.
An alternate subrace, trading the disembodied head for different features.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Headless. You do not have a head at all. It's gone, probably for good. But, you are still alive somehow, with your mind residing in your body instead of your head. Whatever is keeping you alive means you now do not need to eat, drink, or breathe. However, your lack of mouth renders you completely mute.
Replacement Head. You have a totem that you use as a replacement for your head; a helmet from a suit of armor, or a large smooth-cut crystal orb, or even a carved pumpkin. You are able to use your totem head as a focus for spellcasting, and it can be removed as normal and is filled with a perpetual ghostlike flame. If your totem is lost or destroyed, you can attune to a new one over the course of an hour. While using your totem as a spellcasting focus, you can cast spells without a vocal component.
Improved Blindsight. Without your totem head, your body has blindsight out to 10 feet, much like a true dullahan. However, your totem has blindsight out to 30 feet instead. Both your head and your body are blind past this point.
Extra-Scary. You are proficient in the Intimidation skill.
(Optional) Undead. The reason why you are able to survive without your head is because you aren't alive to need it. You may optionally take this trait when making a cursed dullahan. Instead of your creature type being both fey and humanoid, it is undead and humanoid instead.
Random Height and Weight
|5′ 0″||+2d8||120 lb.||× (2d6) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
When creating a Dullahan character, you can use the following table of traits, ideals, bonds and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.
|1||I have a hard time learning how what I do or say affects others.|
|2||Crowds, and merry groups make me uncomfortable.|
|3||I forget that my thoughts and intentions are not clear to others.|
|4||I talk to myself, constantly.|
|5||I find bonding with animals easier than to others.|
|6||I just can't sit still, I must always be doing something.|
|7||I hold true to my values very strongly. A bit too strongly.|
|8||I am almost entirely fearless. In fact, I don't understand how fear can paralyze others.|
|1||Self-Reliance: Asking for help is shameful, though giving it is acceptable.|
|2||Travel: Setting up roots is a sign of laziness and bad character.|
|3||Animals: An animals distrust is a huge red flag.|
|4||Survival: Doing whatever it takes to survive, no matter the costs, is always forgivable.|
|5||Nature: It willingly provides for us, but only if we provide for it. Those who ignore this are malicious or foolish.|
|6||Companionship: We ride together as one. Maintaining those bonds makes everyone stronger.|
|1||I've been alone for so long, I want to find the clan of my ancestors.|
|2||Traveling the world, without helping where you can, is a shallow lifestyle.|
|3||Being with others is more fun than expected, and it's worth the dangerous life of an adventurer.|
|4||The world provides for me, I need to protect it.|
|5||Adventuring is a convenient way to put food on my plate, given my skills and lifestyle. That is all.|
|6||Someone took my goddamned head! I want it back!|
|1||I am not inclined to trust others.|
|2||My social skills and boorish nature are appalling.|
|3||I prioritize my occasional alone time a fair bit too much.|
|4||I may look after others, but my own needs always come first.|
|5||I am naive, and a poor judge of character.|
|6||My head wanders, literally and figuratively, and I forget where I left my body at times.|