Hermitfolk (5e Race)

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I make promise, my goods are genuine as my shell! Beautiful gems from ocean's floor, good quality, greater price! -A hermitfolk merchant attempting to hock his wares to passersby

The hermitfolk are strange crablike creatures from the ocean's depths that have only recently begun traveling to the surface, following soon after the tritons. They're known for being jolly merchants with a penchant for anything shiny that catches their eye. You'll most often see them along beaches or near harbors, where they'll have set up small marketplaces full of goods from their abyssal homes. Some take it upon themselves to set up dedicated trade routes, buying valuables from one civilization and selling them in another. If they see something on you that they like, such as a glistening pearl necklace or a pair of metal earrings, they'll often try and buy them off you, attempting to add to their stash of shiny trinkets. Most hermitfolk would never resort to thieving, of course, as that would be a stain on their honor as merchants. There are some, however, that are unable to contain their innate greed, and resort to hoarding their treasures entirely for themselves. You'll rarely see them traveling inland, but those that do have most often have found a calling in life other than mercantilism, which is a bizarre concept to most hermitfolk.

Physical Description[edit]

Zantus Chain-Neck smaller.jpg
Zantus Chain-Neck, a hermitfolk nomad. Art by CrazyAceking

Hermitfolk have bulky bodies covered in a hard exoskeleton. They average at 6 and 1/2 feet tall and around 300lb in weight. Their heads are relatively small compared to the rest of their body, with 4 forward-facing eyes that have a hard time adapting to intense light. Their mouths are a complex system of small appendages they use to cut food down into digestible pieces, which is almost always covered by 2 not as small plate-covered appendages. Often, you'll see them foaming from the mouth, though this is just how they breathe on land. Their backs are large and round, covered with incredibly small hook-like spines which grip onto anything that they attach to, which the hermitfolk can control at will. They also have 8 flat gripping appendages on their back plates, which can flatten against their shells when not in use, and can grip onto larger cargo such as luggage bags. Their arms are large and bulky, sporting 2 fingers and a thumb each. They have four crablike legs which end in stumps. The different markings, bumps, and spikes on their shells are some of the few ways to differentiate them from each other.


The history of the hermitfolk is a rather murky affair. As a general rule, hermitfolk rarely ever keep things to memory unless it concerns themselves, their immediate family and loved ones, or their business. Few living records of the hermitfolks' collective past exist, and the only ones left were observations by the tritons, preserved throughout the ages. At some point in the far past, there was a race of crabfolk which seems to be the ancestors of modern hermitfolk. They're described as being much less bulky than their modern descendants. Their settlements were focused around thermal vents deep in the abyssal zone, due to their warmer temperatures and mineral-rich waters. They were originally agriculturally focused, creating large-scale algae and tube worm farms. However, at some point in their history, the thermal vents they settled went dormant, causing the water temperature to drop drastically. In an attempt to survive, the crabfolk turned to scavenging, pulling up sponges and seaweed from the ocean floor in order to cover their bodies and attempt to warm themselves. Eventually, they evolved to be much bulkier, allowing them to store heat more effectively, and causing them to more closely resemble the hermitfolk of today.

After generations of constantly scavenging sponges and seaweed, the hermitfolks' eyes became keener, allowing them to spot certain things more easily, particularly shiny objects, which they grew a fondness for at some point. This eventually led them towards triton settlements, where they were met with both curiosity and pity. The tritons considered the hermitfolk as uncivilized, unadvanced creatures that needed their protection, so the tritons began teaching them the basics of civilization, including trade, which they seemed to latch on to very quickly. Their innate attraction to shiny stuff allowed them to search for valuable objects lying forgotten in the sand. They learned from the tritons that these objects could be sold for currency, which they could then use to buy other shiny things they wanted. Eventually, the entire hermitfolk economy was a process of buying shiny things from the tritons, selling them back to them, trading them with each other to complete their collections, and so forth. Eventually, when the tritons began to travel to the surface, the hermitfolk followed suit, where they learned of the multitudes of different races on the surface, opening up an entire new world of trade for them.


The hermitfolk can be considered a nomadic people, as they never truly stay in one place for too long. The only settlements they make are either trade outposts at underwater crossroads, or salvaging camps based around large-scale wreckages. Small groups of hermitfolk, often called "scuttles", traverse the ocean floor in search of valuables that may have been lost from passing ships. When they decide they have some proper goods to sell, they will travel to the nearest harbor town or triton settlement, where they will set up shop near the outskirts, as to not provoke any negative responses. They will, however, set up shop further into a city if there is an established "scuttle refuge" of sorts. These scuttle refuges are open-air marketplaces that smell of the sea, and are often large enough to support about 10-12 scuttles at a time. When acting as merchants, hermitfolk are almost bizarrely friendly. To them, the act of collecting and trading valuables is a joyous occasion.

Hermitfolk take a sort of pride from being merchants. Some see themselves as repurposing lost and forgotten relics from the depths and giving them new life with new owners, while others see themselves as ambassadors between the surface and the depths, bringing valuables from one side to the other, and vice-versa. Some hermitfolk take it upon themselves to travel incredibly long distances between multiple different locations, in order to diversify their wares and spread different cultures wherever they go. While the hermitfolk don't adhere to any real laws except for the laws of the ports and settlements they inhabit, many of them obey a certain code of conduct that they refer to as the "merchant's code", which was made widespread amongst them in their earlier days. Included in this code of conduct is the promise to not resort to trickery or thieving of any sort, and those that do will be branded as traitors to their kind, and shunned.

Something inherent in every hermitfolk, however, is an innate sense of greed. For the most part, it's barely noticeable, though you can see it in their eyes when they get their hands on a new shiny object. A sort of lust for all that glitters. From an early age, hermitfolk train their young to contain their greed, and to harness it. That's what drives their mercantile behavior - they tame their greed to the point that they're satisfied with just touching valuable objects, bringing them immense joy as merchants. However, while most hermitfolk can tame themselves at an early age, some fail to do so, and turn towards hoarding. These hermitfolk are looked down upon by the rest, being seen as savages who were unable to restrain their hunger for treasures. You may on occasion find a hoarder's stash on an abandoned sandbar or beach, where you'll see objects ranging from valuable jewels and gold, to metal forks and scrap iron. Their untamed nature makes it so they can't discern the value of objects. Their only value system at that point is "shiny or not shiny". If the hermitfolk that owns the stash sees an intruder, they will immediately go on the defensive if not turn completely hostile. They can be pacified by giving them a glittering object to distract them from your presence, however touching their stash immediately draws their attention, causing them to lash out.

An anomaly amongst hermitfolk is when one of them finds a "calling" other than the merchant's life. The very idea is strange to most of them, to the point that they can't comprehend it. However, those that do find their calling say that something in them finally "woke up". Such individuals will often find their family members worrying about them, as if there were something wrong. They wouldn't be ostracized by any means, and would still be welcome amongst other hermitfolk, however they would always feel as though they were an anomaly amongst their people. Most hermitfolk that go off on their own still retain their merchant upbringing, and end up becoming traveling merchants as well as adventurers. Those that encounter adventuring hermitfolk often describe them as being overwhelmingly friendly, though to some it may come off as a sort of fake friendliness, as if they were being sold something.

In regards to death, hermitfolks fear living too long, because once they reach a certain age they become unable to molt out of their shells, leaving them to suffocate and die while their bodies outgrow their exoskeletons. If an aging hermitfolk is seen attempting to molt, other hermitfolk will drop what they're doing in an attempt to help the elder break free of their shell. To them, letting the elderly die from being crushed in their own bodies is a cruel fate that nobody should experience. At that age, hermitfolks grow so slowly that they only molt every few years, however their bodies become relatively weak, making it harder and harder to break free.

Hermitfolk Names[edit]

The hermitfolk never developed their own naming scheme, only bothering to give themselves names when dealing with the tritons. Hermitfolk first names are almost entirely copied from tritons, though it's common for hermitfolk to give their offspring names based on the inhabitants of the cities they frequent. For example, hermitfolk that mostly deal with humans may sometimes give their offspring human names. However, they found it odd when on rare occasions they'd end up meeting two hermitfolk with the same names, so then began the tradition of defining themselves using certain trinkets they positioned on their bodies, such as jewels or chains. Some lineages of hermitfolk have taken it to a new level, passing down a defining ornament from one generation to the next, creating their own "surnames" of sort.

Hermitfolk "Surnames": Iron-Chain-Hand, Emerald-Shell, Wooden-Cross-Chest, Ruby-Eye, Gold-Chain-Neck, Silver-Dagger-Shoulder, Pearl-Head

Hermitfolk Traits[edit]

Bulky crablike ocean dwellers with a penchant for mercantilism and all things shiny.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Hermitfolk mature around the age of 12, and can live to be more than 200 years. They don't die from old age, rather they would naturally die when they become too weak to molt out of their shells, causing them to suffocate in their own bodies.
Alignment. Hermitfolk go wherever they are welcome, so long as there are customers there. They tend towards the neutral alignment.
Size. Hermitfolk are born from rather small eggs and in clutches, usually starting at 1 inch tall, reaching an average of 6 1/2 feet tall and 450 pounds by maturity, and their size slowly increases the older they get. Some of the oldest hermitfolk have grown to be about 9 feet tall and 500 pounds, though by this point their growth has slowed to a crawl. Your size is medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Your swimming speed is 40 feet.
Abyssal Vision. Hermitfolk have evolved to traverse the ocean floor, where there is minimal light. In areas where there is dim light and darkness, you can see up to 60ft as if you were in bright light. However, in areas where there is bright light, your vision is obstructed, and you have disadvantage on Perception checks.
Natural Armor. Your shell makes for a natural defense mechanism. While you wear no armor, your AC is equal to 12 + your Constitution modifier. You may wield a shield and still gain this benefit. You are unable to wear normal armor.
Hardened Claws. The armor on your hands makes for a natural weapon. Your unarmed strikes inflict slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier.
Limited Amphibiousness. Hermitfolk breathe on the surface by keeping their gills wet and forcing air over them. You can breathe underwater, and can breathe air, but you need to drink twice as much water while on the surface in order to keep from being dehydrated. You are able to drink seawater with no ill effects.
Collectors from the Deep. Hermitfolk have a knack for collecting anything shiny that crosses their path, and their bulky bodies ensure that they can carry their weight. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity.
All that Glitters. Hermitfolk have attuned themselves to finding any shiny objects they come across on the ocean floor. You have advantage on Perception checks when looking for shiny objects. These can range from a glittering jewel, to a shiny piece of scrap metal, to anything that would give off a reflection. If you have disadvantage due to Abyssal Vision, then you would make a normal roll instead.
Merchant Blood. The art of the trade is ingrained in all hermitfolk. You are proficient with Persuasion checks when trying to haggle the price of something you're buying.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Aquan.

Hoarder Hermitfolk[edit]

Ability Score Increase. (Replaces Ability Score Increase from normal hermitfolk) Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Strength score increases by 2, however your Intelligence decreases by 2.
Hoarders' Ferocity. (Replaces Merchant Blood) Your ferocious nature can be a force to be reckoned with. You are proficient in Intimidation.
Good as Gold. To you, the only things that matter when determining something's value is whether it's shiny or not. All else is irrelevant. You have disadvantage when determining the true value of any object. To you, a shiny fork is as precious as a diamond.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

6′ 6″ +1d4 300 lb. × (1d4) lb.

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

(one vote)

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