Gravedigger (5e Race)

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We found the lycan caught in a pit trap soon after it fled, dead as a stump. The trap's owner wasn't too far behind and was more than happy to give the body to to us when we demanded it.
A knight recounting his story of a gravedigger encounter

Though rarely seen outside of the forests they call home, these carnivorous creatures prefer to live out their lives among the trees, making traps for prey. Because of their nature and trap-making behavior, small towns with gravediggers living in the forests around them paint them as monsters, though gravediggers themselves deny these notions with great vehemence.

Physical Description[edit]

A gravedigger. Source

These strange, quadrupedal bird-like creatures have soft, downy feathers on most of their bodies. About as large as a medium-sized hound, these stocky creatures have front arms heavily specialized for digging through soil, but not hard stone. Bafflingly, these creatures give birth to live young instead of laying eggs, further distancing them from the birds they resemble.


Like halflings, the history of gravediggers is largely unremarkable. Also much like halflings, records and evidence indicates that the gravediggers, as a race, appeared fairly recently, and do not have a unified culture to call their own.


Despite their bizarre appearance and trap-making behavior, gravediggers are solitary creatures that are more than happy to have no company, but if pushed, will join humanoid society or even an adventuring party as a last resort. Whereas humanoids live in cooperative social groups, gravediggers live and hunt alone, finding more success in closely guarding any available resources from others of their kind and partitioning the lands into large territories, with each territory owned by a single individual. One of the most noticeable traits that gravediggers have is their ability to make traps, and common traps are typically snares, foothold traps, falling cages, deadfall traps, and spiked pits. They use these traps to catch food of various sizes, though they despise the taste of humanoid flesh and will remove any humanoids that find themselves in their traps before abandoning them elsewhere in the woods. As adults, they are highly territorial and chase out creatures that they feel are threats to their sovereignty, including humanoids and other gravediggers. This feeling of territoriality manifests in them as an intense anger whenever two adults are in close visual range of one another, except during mating season for these creatures. For example, a distant rival along a territorial boundary, easily spotted thanks to the bright patterns on their feathers, elicits only a mild reaction, which consists of erected plumage and guttural warning calls which serve very well to keep the parties at a safe distance from each other. However, sudden close conflict triggers blind rage and a possibly fatal physical confrontation is certain. However, gravediggers do not begin life this way.

As children, gravediggers are bright orange and rely on the care of their mothers for almost everything, but rapidly learn survival strategies and cultural knowledge from her through play and storytelling as they age. Once the child becomes one year old, it begins to willingly distance itself from their parent. In a developmental milestone comparable to puberty, young gravediggers at this age become disinterested in social play as well as uncomfortable around and avoidant of humanoids and others of their kind, including the parent that was until then the only social bond they maintained. Thankfully, there is very little outward aggression from mother to offspring like what occurs in bears and wildcats when it is time for the young to be independent. This time in an individual's life is called 'the dispersal period' among humanoids and lasts from six to eighteen months, during which time young gravediggers often travel long distances alone from their birth territory and are forced to pass through or along the borders of the territories of many other adult gravediggers to do so. Adolescents during their dispersal periods avoid others of their kind like the plague, but they will not develop their aggressive territoriality until they establish a territory of their own. When they establish their own territory, they enter a period known among humanoids as settling. When they enter this stage, much of the orange coloration they were born with fades away. The change of color both directly reflects the stage of development of its owner and also influences the behavior of other adult gravediggers. During their 'dispersal period', adult gravediggers are relatively tolerant of the transient orange-coated children and generally allow them to travel through their lands to establish their own territory provided they do not overstay their welcome. However, once the children develop the black and white coats of settled, territorial adults, they will be treated with intense hostility.

Unlike humanoids, adult gravediggers do not require social interaction with others of their kind to lead fulfilling lives. They are able to focus on apparently menial tasks, such as digging trenches, for very long periods of time without apparent boredom and develop strict routines, sometimes to a ritualistic extent. This behavior results in highly structured day to day lives with very little variety. As a result, gravediggers often find that they have a lot of free time to fill with unnecessary activities as well and will typically include this in their routines. While young dispersing individuals must focus almost entirely on finding a suitable land to claim and avoiding others of their kind, with food hard to find and free time virtually nonexistent, settled adults have it a bit easier. The majority of their time is devoted to patrolling and protecting the perimeter of their territory from rivals and humanoids, with creating traps for catching food being relatively easy and requiring only a little daily effort once a number of effective traps are constructed. During free time, adults often engage in playful or creative pursuits to keep themselves entertained in their alone, yet not lonely lives. Adult gravediggers amuse themselves in a wide variety of ways, yet their primary methods of finding food, which are building traps from raw materials, allows them to pursue creative pursuits in the form of wood carving and even illustration. Though cultural transmission is slow among them and primarily carried down by their mothers, many gravediggers draw and may even represent abstract concepts symbolically by scratching or painting with soil-based pigments symbols into trees and rocks along shared territorial boundaries. Over time, these boundary markers can develop into crude social media systems that allow multiple individuals, which meet at these boundaries and add their own marks to them, limited social interaction without having to meet in person. They can also transfer cultural skills between adults via these boundary markers, as one individual may copy the art of another. Among the most common motifs expressed and those often created first are self-portraits, with stylization varying from highly abstract to very realistic renditions. These scrawlings, in turn, give other visiting gravediggers information about their neighbors, and evidence suggests that two individuals can communicate back and forth continuously with illustration in this manner. This results in a shared language through which ideas and even real-life information can be expressed over days or weeks. For example, some information gained from these scrawlings can include announcing the birth of offspring, the killing of a mutually hated enemy, or a warning of danger.

Gravedigger Names[edit]

Because of their unique language and difficulty understanding other languages, gravedigger names are typically in their own language, which will hereby be referred to as GDL.

Gravedigger Traits[edit]

Quadrupedal bird-like creatures that build traps for their own uses.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score decreases by 1 and your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. Gravediggers become mature at 2 years old. They live for about 20 to 40 years before they die of natural causes.
Alignment. Despite stories from humanoids depicting gravediggers as evil monsters to be slain, they are typically true neutral creatures, but those that side with good or evil are not unheard of.
Size. Gravediggers usually stand around 2 feet tall and typically weigh 80 pounds. Your size is Small.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet, and you also have a base burrowing speed of 25 feet.
Beastial Nature. Your creature type is beast.
Natural Trapmaker. You roll with advantage on Dexterity checks involving setting traps.
Bizarre Shape. You are unable to use normal armor and weapons, and armor and weapons made specifically for you takes 1.5 times as long to make than their regular counterparts.
Alien Appearance. You roll with disadvantage on Persuasion and Deception checks.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write GDL and one other language of your choice.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

2′ 7″ +1d6 80 lb. × (1d3) lb.

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

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