Fishfolk (5e Race)

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All in favor of paying the highest price for a little bit of adventure say 'I!' Those who wish to stay at home and read a book... you're coming along anyway, you could use the sunlight.
—Cade Ander

Fishfolk are a peaceful group of piscine humanoids that rarely make contact with the outside world. This is due in part to a lack of natural strength and defense, and in part to a nearly constant need for water. What they lack in physicality, however, they gain in eloquence and wit. Fishfolk hold high respect for wisdom, ecology, and the natural order.

Ichthyic Image[edit]

Fishfolk are aquatic beings with physical characteristics reminiscent of local fish. They carry a physique and bone structure vaguely similar to that of a human, but the likeness ends there. The skin of fishfolk is covered in smooth, slick scales, with colors and patterns unique to the local aquatic ecosystem. Bony fins may fold out from the head, back, forearms, and forelegs, and gills situate just under the jawline of their fishlike cranium. Fishfolk tend to remain in permanent establishments for generations, where they slowly adopt suitable patterns and colorations, as well as slight alterations in biology. Appearances are definitive of a community, and an individual from one area can easily be distinguished from that of another. Most Fishfolk carry an impressive, vascular musculature, acquired through a lifetime of maneuvering against the resistance of the water.

Living inconspicuously in outside societies can be difficult to Fishfolk. Their interesting and unique appearance grabs the attention of strangers who have never seen their likes before, and their unique features easily identify them. But as much as people look, they wouldn't dare touch: although not inherently slimy, their shiny scales and tendency to stay damp makes them appear as such.

Aquatically Adapted[edit]

Although able to breathe and walk on dry land, Fishfolk are first and foremost aquatic beings. This is readily observed upon inspection of their outward appearance, but the most important of these adaptations come from within, allowing them to regulate buoyancy, compression, and body temperature in most underwater environments. A Fishfolk’s biology allows them to survive almost anywhere from the depths of the ocean to the swamps of the surface without much issue.

Fishfolk feel sluggish and unnatural on dry land, which leads them to appear deceptively lackadaisical and careless in their movements and actions. Fishfolk would much rather walk straight through a garden than follow a path around, and take to the water whenever an opportunity presents itself. Equipment and objects of the surface that aren’t suited for frequent submersion make little sense to Fishfolk, and they would rather not have something at all than worry about ruining it.

Enduring Empire[edit]

The mind and tongue of Fishfolk have developed for the smooth, fast, and intricate native dialect woven into their tradition of communication and debate. Speech is a highly valued skill among Fishfolk societies, and individuals dedicate years to the improvement thereof. Documentation is second only to oral communication, and Fishfolk take great pride in the voluminous libraries they compound over generations researching the natural world.

Fishfolk are stationary beings and only relocate if their current situation becomes unlivable. A quarter of their total population still live in ancient, secluded tribes in the less-inhabited parts of the world, even though most are aware of the more sophisticated ocean cities. Tribal communities often center around lakes, swamps, and islands, but some establish in exotic locations such as mountain springs and undersea fissures. Tribes are not 'ruled' in a traditional sense; rather, tribesmen respect a Bigman as the most persuasive, capable, and wise individual. Fishfolk tribesmen rarely engage in combat willingly and see rigid leadership as a mark of a primitive, warlike tribe. While they are capable of defending against occasional sahuagin attacks, the only real protection these communities provide is isolation: once word gets out about the existence of a tribe, it becomes an easy target to better-equipped raiders.

The survivors of destroyed villages usually join the majority of Fishfolk within the great cities of the sea. The reef-born Coral Fishfolk form most of a city’s population and serve as architects of the most prolific structures. As underwater transit does not require roads to separate buildings, glorious residences, spires, and fortresses cluster together over a dense cityscape. Such a layout could prove overwhelming to outsiders, but Fishfolk find the structure to be natural and view surface cities as sprawling and inefficient. Cities are often ruled by a military leader and an elected official, as well as influential individuals. One comes to high-status in society by proving their skill and intelligence, in a similar fashion to tribal Bigmen. Cities engage in limited trade with each other as well as the rest of the world, making cities aware of modern technology. Fishfolk inventors enjoy adapting the weapons, tools, and amenities of the surface for underwater use, thus cities are not far behind most others on the surface.

Atypical Adventurers[edit]

All Fishfolk share a thirst for adventure, but few have the conviction to drop society’s luxury and safety. Most townsfolk will spend a lifetime without stepping foot out of society’s bounds, but a select few venture out in groups or, on rare occasions, alone. Their obscure visage may provide an initial obstacle in social interactions with the outside world, but this is rarely something they can't talk their way out of.

Fishfolk Names[edit]

Fishfolk believe that names should only acquire meaning only through the acts and contributions of that specific individual. If ever a Fishfolk goes down in history, their name is practically retired; reusing a name is disrespectful and theft of another's image. Fishfolk will rarely name a child after anything or anyone- unless a name's previous owner has been entirely forgotten. If one discovers another instance of their name, they may be inclined to change their own. Names often contain obscure phonetic combinations and follow no real pattern.

Last names are another issue. In tribal communities, last names usually represent the family or tribe to which one belongs. In towns and more civilized communities, last names represent the family heritage and trace back many generations to an ancestor of importance. This name may not be documented anywhere else and retaining it shows loyalty to the family and respect for ancestors. Last names change under few circumstances, either in marriage, where the male takes the female's name or in dishonor, if one is shunned or revokes their family. the latter is never looked kindly upon.

Male: Cade, Haleero, Calbat, Shore, Neln, Skrabbath, Alaeren, Iam, Yen, Los, Hanlos, Shiel, Kale, Vean, Aeon, Zakata, Yernahn, Velen

Female: Shiok, Mios, Elk, Aln, Iasonara, Ellos, Harhanna, Mar, Talii, Galea, Tii, Meeohono, Fen, Mey, Fin, Cralli, Ceon, Mento, Fen, Tilen

Tribe/Family Names: Ander, Bahari, Samaki, Kina, Matumbawe, Maji, Safi, Saad, Miti, Maarifa

Fishfolk Traits[edit]

Fishfolk are a humanoid race of fishlike people with a talent for speech.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2.
Age. Fishfolk reach maturity around 20, and a normal life expectancy is 100 years.
Alignment. Fishfolk are usually peaceful and tend toward neutral alignments. Evil alignments are rare, and usually well disguised by seemingly good intentions.
Size. Fishfolk measure from 4 to 6 feet tall, weighing from 100 to 200 pounds. Deep Fishfolk favor the higher end of the scale, and Coral Fishfolk tend to be smaller. Regardless. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a swimming speed of 40 feet.
Amphibious. You can breathe normally in either air or water.
Darkvision. Accustomed to the subdued underwater world, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. 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.
Slick Tongue. You are proficient in the Persuasion skill.
Water Dependency. If you fail to immerse yourself in water for at least 1 hour during a day, you suffer one level of exhaustion at the end of that day. You can only recover from this exhaustion through magic or by immersing yourself in water for at least 1 hour.
Languages. You can speak, read and write Common and Aquan.
Subrace. The waters of your ancestors define you as a member of one of three distinct subspecies of Fishfolk: monstrous Deep Fishfolk; elegant Coral Fishfolk; and wise River Fishfolk.

Deep Fishfolk[edit]

Deep Fishfolk are denizens of the darkest depths of the sea. Tribes tend to hold a primitive culture of violence and aggression, and these tribesmen are feared by the few adventurers with the genuine displeasure to meet one. They actively avoid creatures from the shallows and hold a severe distaste for their surface-dwelling kin. Deep Fishfolk rarely, if ever, leave the lonesome depths, hence they earn their name. In the event that one ever paid a visit to their kin, they would be welcomed; the shallowers hold no similar distaste towards the Deep Fishfolk. Deep Fishfolk live primitive lifestyles, using only basic tools, shelter, and armaments crafted from slain beasts or sunken wreckage. They share languages with their kin, although their speech is broken and rough by comparison. The Deep Walkers have a visage resembling the monstrous fish that surround them, but retaining a vaguely-humanoid body structure: sometimes including tails, tentacles, and bioluminescent appendages. Between their sensitivity to light and their demonic appearance, an adventurous dweller of the depths would have a challenging - although no-doubt-interesting - life on the surface.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Perception checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.
Bioluminescence. You know the dancing lights cantrip. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.
Of the Deep. Your vision is unimpeded by water conditions and you ignore any of the drawbacks caused by a deep, underwater environment.

Coral Fishfolk[edit]

The Coral Fishfolk inhabit the coasts and reefs of the saltwater oceans and pride themselves on craftsmanship and architecture. They are commonly referred to as "Coral Fishfolk" in reference to their preferred habitat and their supreme craftsmanship with coral. Using a revered and protected process, they create fabulous structures, flawless weapons, unbreaking tools, and beautiful jewelry from coral alone. The Coral Fishfolk construct glorious cities in their coastal homes with beautiful, shining towers that may stretch all the way from the seafloor beyond the water's surface. The farming of coral and other aquatic flora is integral to the Coral Fishfolk lifestyle, and they surround their cities with agricultural reefs. They have a smooth, fluent accent with a carefully-crafted dialect. Their scales and fins are colorful and elegant, but their delicate skin is susceptible to dehydration. Coral Folk are weaker than their deep-sea kin, but what they lack in strength they gain in athleticism and coordination.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Underwater Grace. You are proficient in the Acrobatics skill.
Natural Artisan. You have proficiency in one of the following sets of artisan's tools: Jeweler’s tools, Mason’s tools, or Smith’s tools. Once, when making a check with your chosen artisan's tools, you may roll an extra d4 and add the number rolled to the check. You must finish a long rest to use this trait again.

River Fishfolk[edit]

River Fishfolk are peaceful peoples of freshwater lakes and streams, fascinated with the natural world. The "River Folk" establish in humble waterside communities, in homes created entirely from local materials and scraps. Centered in these towns lies their greatest pride: deceptively large sunken libraries, containing documented knowledge and fabulous treasures accumulated over centuries. River Fishfolk defend these structures by any means necessary, going as far as to demolish libraries in the case of an invasion. As many have sought out the treasure of the River Fishfolk, these libraries are now very few - and those that still exist are exceptionally well-hidden. River Fishfolk culture revolves around the observation and conservation of nature, and clerics even claim to have the ability to communicate with the waters. They are quick-witted and constantly weigh the consequences of their actions, but this often leads to overthinking and convoluted plans. Although they appear relaxed and even lethargic, submerged meditation is a required nightly ritual to cleanse the spirit and recuperate an overworked mind.

Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence increases by 1.
River Guidance. You are proficient in the Nature skill.
Aquatic Empathy. You can cast the animal friendship spell an unlimited number of times with this trait, but you can target only beasts with an innate swimming speed with it.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

4′ 0″ +2d10 100 lb. × (2d6) lb.

*Height = base height + height modifier
**Weight = base weight + (height modifier × weight modifier)

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