Kurent (5e Race)

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A mature kurent in festive garb. Source.

Kurent[edit]

It had been some days travelling in the icy mountains without provisions, and the situation looked dire. My travelling companion – Henzomar Sidaya, a gnomish scout – was the first of us to pass out from starvation and the cold. I had tried to carry him, as to not leave him to die, but my body was far too weak to do so. Unwilling to leave him and being of unsound mind, I had decided to lay in the snow by his fallen form and wrap my arms and legs about him, in an attempt to warm him up and revive him. It was not long before I blacked out.

My life became a dark and obscure haze for quite some time. When I had regained my senses, I realized that I was no longer atop those dreadful and treacherous mountains, but in a quaint cottage by a fire. Tending to me was a large, furred creature that I had recognized as a kurent, an intelligent beast I had read about but never dreamed of coming into contact with. It explained to me that it had found me laying in the snow, muttering deliriously to myself. Its hunting party had taken me back to their village post-haste to care for me. The creature then offered me a pot of stew, which it claimed contained a stew made of “oha prashecha”, a local delicacy.

Astounded by their generosity and overcome by hunger, I began to devour the stew. The creature and I talked for a good while afterwards, mainly about culture and why I was in the mountains. After some time, I enquired about the whereabouts of my companion. He had explained that he was fully unconscious and most likely dead when they found him. I inquired further, asking where he was now to see if I could heal him in some fashion.

It was then revealed to me that I had already eaten Henzomar.

—An account from Adorellan Traynore, an early elven explorer

Kurents are a beastly race, vaguely human in shape. They are known for their unique appearance, agricultural society, and complicated relationship with other races.

Physical Description[edit]

Kurents are a good amount larger than a human, standing between seven and eight feet tall. They are covered with long, thick fur from the top of their heads down to about their shins. Their skin is dark red and has the consistency of leather. Their fur ranges in color from white to black to anywhere in between. Their heads are topped with two mighty horns. The style of these horns varies from family to family, but typically they’re like a bull’s horns. They have a snout like a wolf’s, out of which protrude two tusks. Their mouth is full of razor-sharp teeth and an extraordinarily long tongue.

Kurents are one of a small number of truly hermaphroditic species. There are no “male” or “female” kurents – there are only kurents. Any one kurent can impregnate another. Despite centuries of interaction with other races, they have never managed to wrap their heads around the idea of men and women. For example, they learned that a mother or a father is “one who protects and cares for children”. Subsequently, when a kurent saves a group of children from disaster, they are given the title “Father” or “Mother” as a sign of their valor. As the specific title is given mostly arbitrarily, many heroes of kurent culture have names like “Mother Ivan”, or “Father Suzanna”.

The Law is the Law[edit]

Kurents’ entire world view is based around their laws, which they call zakonje (pronounced “zah-KAWN-yeh”). To the kurents, zakonje are more than simple rules – they govern how they live their lives from day to day and all of their social interactions. In some regards, they are closer to a religious doctrine than a legal system. One of the most crucial zakonje is that the zakonje must be followed by all kurents; failure to adhere to the zakonje ends in exile at best, and death at worst.

Paradoxically, if a kurent does knowingly break the code, it is often explained away or ignored. Since the zakonje by definition must always be followed and the punishment is so severe that nobody would ever do it, the only logical explanation is that they didn’t really violate any zakonje.

It is crucial to note that kurents as people are not entirely bright. This is not to say that they’re not smart – they make wonderful architects and farmers and are capable of memorizing large amounts of information. But still, most kurents lack any common sense.

For another example, one of the zakonje relating to leadership states that “a good and righteous leader of a clan of kurents should never lie.” As a result, if a particularly intelligent kurent wants to usurp their leader, they will simply proclaim themselves to be the leader and take up their duties. Since a good leader never lies, if the usurper is claiming they’re the leader, then other kurents – including the original leader – will simply accept them as the true leader. Otherwise, the “leader” would be lying, which would break the zakonje, and since nobody would ever break the zakonje, then they must be the real leader.

To reiterate – the kurents as a people are not entirely bright.

More than an Outfit[edit]

Kurents, in addition to their distinct physical form, have an instantly recognizable suite of accessories. The three most famous (and most prominent) of these accessories are their bells, their ever-present club, and their horn decorations.

The bells of a kurent are notable for being physically attached to them. Around the age of 18, the kurents begin a rite of passage in which they are given between four and six piercings around their body, depending on their size. Over the next few years, the size of these piercing is increased using a series of larger and larger rings, and weights are hung from the resulting piercings. Finally, at age 20, bells are permanently affixed to these piercings. This tradition has its basis in the ancient mythology of the kurent. The legends say kurents would use bells to ward off ice spirits and ultimately drive away winter, helping usher in spring.

While their club (their “ježklub” [pronounced “YEZH-kloob”], to be specific) isn’t physically attached to the kurents, it’s rare to see a kurent without it. The acquisition of a ježklub is as much a rite of passage as the affixation of the bells. While the bells signify that a child has become an “official” member of the kurent race, receiving a ježklub signifies that the kurent is willing to lay down their life for their clan and fully participate in the community, be it in battle or just in day-to-day farming.

Notably, there is a zakon that states that a true kurent always has their bells and their ježklub. Should some poor kurent lose their bells and their club, they are exiled from their clan, as they are no longer a true kurent. These kurents usually commit suicide out of shame. Conversely, should a non-kurent find a genuine ježklub and go through the painstaking process of affixing bells to themselves, then they will be unquestionably welcomed into a clan, regardless of race – even if they are clearly, say, a gnome, or a dragonborn.

Finally, their horn decorations. There are a wide variety of ways that a kurent may decorate their horns. The most common way is by tying a string between the two and dangling dozens of colorful ribbons from the line. Others may tie intricate bows to their horns. However, these are not constant – they are worn only for holidays, feasts, and other festive occasions, and are changed often. However, due to the frequency of their festivities, it seems that kurents always have something on their horns.

Forbidden Fruits[edit]

There is a zakon that says that a feast is required following a great deed – if a kurent hosts a feast out of the goodness of their heart, their generosity is seen as a “great deed”, and dozens of feasts may follow by the same logic. It’s not uncommon for a clan to be in a state of perpetual feasting for upwards of two months. This is no doubt aided by the massive appetite of the kurents. A particularly large kurent can easily eat two entire suckling pigs after a hard day’s work.

Of course, it is impossible to discuss the cuisine of the kurents without talking about the major taboos that they break with regards to food – it is not unheard of for kurents to eat other races. In fact, certain races, like gnomes, have their own bespoken names for the food kurents turn them into – much as pigs become pork, gnomes become hoja prašiča.

To their credit, it is not as if kurents hunt other races for sport – in fact, there is a zakon that explicitly states “never to hunt a creature that talks”. However, should a dwarf, gnome, or even human wander into a trap meant for deer or other game and wind up dead, then as the kurent see it, they’re just another piece of meat for consumption. After all, if the being was dead by the time they got there, the kurents never saw any evidence that they could talk. In times of extreme famine, using this same logic, kurents will sometimes eat their newborn offspring, since they are incapable of speech.

Friends to All Except Their Own[edit]

Kurents’ relationship with other races and cultures is an often-complicated affair. As the kurents see it, all other races come across as cold and standoffish, but nevertheless, they will do everything they can to get along with them. Kurents are famously wonderful hosts and will insist that their guests stay and partake in their food, drink, and festivities. Furthermore, kurents are enthusiastic to learn about other races’ cultures, and subsequently make above-average diplomats.

On the other hand, kurents still have the stigma of eating sentient beings, and even cannibalizing their own children. Regardless of how amicable somebody is, and despite the knowledge that they would never try to eat you in particular, kurents find it difficult to maneuver around their reputation. Additionally, despite the kurents’ attempts to be as accommodating as possible for their guests, their strict adherence to the zakonje sometimes make them come off as being stubborn or bullheaded.

While kurents are friendly towards outsiders, a surprising amount of strife exists between kurent clans. Inside the clans themselves, there is one kurent who is appointed to be the leader, and then dozens of family units living side by side. While the leader is generally well-liked, and family members have good relations with one another, kurents are notoriously jealous of their neighbors. Be it by working hard to make sure their crops have the greatest yield out of anyone in the clan so they can show up their neighbors, or by sabotaging their neighbor’s farms to make their own farm look better, kurents will do anything and everything to prove that their family is the best family in their clan. This rivalry increases by tenfold when comparing two different clans – clans have been known to go to war over incredibly petty subjects, such as which clan grows the best barley, or which clan has the most pigs.

Kurent Names[edit]

While kurents don’t have a concept of gender, their names happen to have uses in certain subsets of human culture that line up with a traditional male/female dichotomy.

“Male” Names: Branislav, Goran, Erazem, Vinko, Ožbalt, Črtomir, Zdenko

Neutral Names: Fran, Matija, Miša, Slava, Saša, Vanja, Ženja

“Female” Names: Adrijana, Jerneja, Ljubica, Leopoldina, Viktorija, Doroteja, Kaja

Kurent Traits[edit]

A race of furry, horned beasts with tusks and a long tongue that live in the mountains.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength, Dexterity and Constitution scores each increases by 1.
Age. Kurents reach maturity at 20 and can live to 150 years old.
Alignment. Most kurents are lawful or neutral and are usually good.
Size. You stand between seven and eight feet tall, weighing around 330 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Gullible. Your willingness to trust and co-operate with other races makes you an easy target for people who want to use you. You have disadvantage on saving throws against being charmed.
Ježklub. Your ježklub is a weapon. If you hit with it, you deal slashing or bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier.
Long Fur. Your fur protects you from the elements. You have resistance to cold damage.
Rural Wisdom. Your experience from working on a farm gives you an insight into the agricultural. You are proficient in both the Animal Handling and Nature skills.
Thick Skin. Your hide-like skin is nigh-impenetrable. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Constitution modifier. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Unsubtle. Your larger-than-average size, in addition to your bells, makes it incredibly hard for you to sneak around. You have disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks to move silently.
Languages. You can understand, read, speak, and write Common and Giant.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

Base
Height
Height
Modifier*
Base
Weight
Weight
Modifier**
6′ 8″ +4d4 240 lb. × (2d8) lb.

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


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