Lythari (5e Subrace)
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Disclaimer: All credit goes to the original creator of the concept for Lythari in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, this is just my take on the traits the subrace would have if put in play.
- 1 Elf (Lythari)
- 1.1 Clan of wood elves, yet more primal.
- 1.2 Tribal, outcasts and isolated.
- 1.3 Curiosity may have killed the cat, yet it does not deter a pack of wolves.
- 1.4 References
Lythari (originally Ly'Tel'Quessir) are good-aligned elven lycanthropic wolves, similar in appearance to werewolves and often mistaken as such. Lythari differ from werewolves in that they have no hybrid form and are friendly and companionable when in lupine form. Although much less numerous than werewolves, a lot of Lythari are sponsored by the church of Selûne.(1)
Clan of wood elves, yet more primal.
Lythari are true lycanthropes. They are born as were-creatures to lycanthrope parents. Lythari packs are almost exclusively found in wood elf lands or on the isle of Evermeet. Lythari propagate using a ritual of bonding that will turn the other party into a lythari, provided they are an Elf or Tel'Quessir. This ritual only works if both parties agree to the transformation. It leaves a permanent scar on the transformed, which resembles a wolf bite. Physical combat is abhorrent to lythari. If they aid in warfare at all it would be in a scouting capacity or as a messenger, using their speed to their advantage. However, if cornered or forced to defend their kin, they have a powerful bite which they can use to great effect. Otherwise, they only attack when hunting, preferring deer, rabbit and wild boar, much like a wolf.(1)
Tribal, outcasts and isolated.
Lythari packs are small, usually numbering no more than 30, a dozen or so of which will be too young to fend for themselves. They do not fashion metal objects of any kind and the rare spellcasters amongst them tend to be priests of one of the nature deities. All members of a lythari pack are treated equally, with no real leaders. As such, these packs tend to be quite anarchic and are increasingly rare, as most lythari go to live in Faerie, travelling there through portals. Lone lythari are readily accepted within normal wolf packs and treated deferentially but are left out of the pack hierarchy. Evil wolves such as worgs, werewolves and wolfweres will attempt to drive off a lythari or slay him or her if at all possible. They can sense a lythari's goodliness naturally. A nomadic clan of lythari called the Vil Adanrath also inhabits the Endless Wastes.(1)
Curiosity may have killed the cat, yet it does not deter a pack of wolves.
Being so isolated and clan driven, how can you make these elves into an adventuring player character. Considering that they are rare as well, you will need to have your DMs consensus, as it may indeed have a huge impact on the campaign. Yet they make for great adventures, they skill in tracking is second to none, making good scouts or rangers to send out on quests, which some have chosen to pursue, after all - An elf lives a long time and thinks may get a bit boring after a while. Others pursue the tribal magics, maybe as druids, or clerics devoted to a nature deity, or perhaps in a more feral manner, becoming barbarians embodying the spirit of a multitude of animals in their fighting style. Even more rarely some Lythari may manifest Wild, uncontrollable magic talents driven by their otherwise primal capability of turning into wolves and others may begin questing at the behest of an otherworldly patron, most likely an archfey or a Great Old One. Nonetheless lythari adventures, while rare, are not unheard of, and in lands where there are few of them left or maybe shunned to the material plane, finding companionship and establishing a group for traversing unfamiliar or even cruel circumstances is a goal most Ly'Tel'Quessir instinctively yearn for.
As a lythari you have keen senses and intuition, similarly to a normal wood elf. Yet you are more in tune with the primal forces and possess an ability to both change into a wolf and also have a supernatural empathy with beasts of all kinds. Yet your primal nature also makes you illiterate, as most lythari don't grow up being educated in the ways like other elves and in fact often spend alot of time in their pub wolf forms along with their family and friends. Besides the traits described here, you have all the main/common Elf Racial Traits as described on page 23 of the Player's Handbook.
A lythari will stick out in a clan of wood elves, because unlike these close related brethren, they often look more akin to moon or high elves - With pale to mildly toned skin, with grey streaks in it and, if having undergone the ritual of bonding, have a scar-like tattoo resembling a wolves bite mark. Your hair are often darker hues of black, brown and red, yet white and silver hair is also valid, only very few lythari have actual blonde hair. Your wolf forms hair color is similar to your natural hair color and you wolf forms pelt pattern is unique and distinctive staying the same every time you shift, unless you use magic to disguise it. If people see you smile, you have slightly larger canines than other elves.
Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Natural Shapechanger: At will, you can use your action to turn into a distinctive and unique wolf form definitive to your character, as per a druids Wild Shape feature, with the only exception that your Hit point total and current HP is always the same in both forms, no matter the change to your constitution score. When in wolf form you gain all the characteristics of a wolf (see page 341 of the Monsters Manual) as per rules of a druids Wild Shape feature(See page 66 of the Player's Handbook), except that your HP, as mentioned earlier, stays the same, and the duration is infinite. Furthermore, the wolf form grows with you, if you increase your physical characteristics through magical means, permanent and temporary accounting for the limits described earlier regarding equipment, and through class features, these increases also apply to your wolf form from this feature, to a maximum of 20 unless stated otherwise. If you are slain in this form you do not revert back to your elven form, yet all items shed of you as the magic dissipates - Being a true lycanthrope either form is actually your true form. An antimagic field does not nullify your current form or force you to change back, but it does make you unable to change form while inside the field, forcing you to stay in your current form. This natural adaptation makes you hard to discern from other wolves, giving you a +5 on charisma related checks when passing for a wolf and a true seeing or other form of magic to discern either of your true forms needs to pass a wisdom check with a DC = 8 + 1/2 your character level + charisma modifier.
Natural Enmity: You can always recognize a lycanthrope, no matter its form or how much it tries to deceive you, giving you advantages on Insight and Perceptions checks against them. Yet lycanthropes can also recognize you, no matter your form or disguise, giving them a similar advantage on Insight and Perception checks against you, and they always start one category more aggressive towards you.
Primal weapon training: You gain proficiency with the club, greatclub, quaterstaff, and sling. You also gain proficiency with any natural weapon you gain through shapechanging, either from the racial ability or otherwise. Furthermore you gain the ability to more aptly use your natural weapons, making them count as finesse weapons for all accounts and purposes.
Illiterate: As per your primal nature, you have a hard time reading and writing anything, making it impossible for you to understand or write written messages, without the aid of magic. As a special rule, you can gain Skill Proficiency (Reading), to overcome your illiteracy.
Bestial connection: You have a natural empathy with creatures of the beast type, having proficiency in Animal Handling, and have advantage on all charisma checks you make to influence them. Furthermore at 3rd level you gain the ability to cast Animal Friendship and Speak with Animals, both as a 1st level spell. At 5th level you gain the ability to cast Animal Messenger and Beast Sense, both as a 2nd level spell. At 7th level your Animal Friendship now counts as a 3rd level spell. Each of these spells can only be cast once, meaning that Animal Friendship after level 7 can be cast once either as a 1st level spell or a 3rd level spell not as both, restoring these uses after a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for it.
Optional, as wolf form is known to be natural for them and not a curse in any way, this feature is in case of a low magic campaign or other lore as to why the tribes are rarely seen nowadays:
Disclaimer: Unlike most werewolves, they can transform at will and keep their minds while in wolf form. (2) The Call of The Wild: Staying in wolf form does alas have its downsides as well, because while you can stay a wolf indefinetely due to your Natural Shapechanger ability, you are also at risk of losing your sense of elven self. If you stay in wolf form, taking short and long rests without changing back, still being able to go into a trance though, you can only do so for an amount of long rests or 24 hour periods, whichever occurs first, equal to your wisdom modifier. If you continue to stay in your wolf form af this, you succumb to The Call of The Wild - This means that you must pass a wisdom saving throw equal to DC 8+1/2 your character level, if you pass, nothing special happens, yet if you fail you take 1 ability damage to both your intelligence score and charisma score, feeling your mind becoming more feral and beast like. If you stay in your wolf form, whether you failed the save or not, you must make a similar save after the next long rest or 24 hour period, increasing the DC by 1, and if you fail you take the similar amount of damage and none on a succesful save. The DC keeps on increasing after this. You can opt to return to your elven form, yet you must recollect your elven self - You need to restore all the lost ability score damage, then wait an amount of long rests equal to your wisdom modifier + number of times you made the wisdom save against this ability, in the meanwhile you cannot change back into a wolf through your Natural Shapechanger ability or any other beast through the use of spells or abilities, if you do you are now at risk of losing yourself to The Call of The Wild in these forms as well, with the save being equal to what it was last time you nearly lost your elven self. After the recuperation period you are safe from this ability as it resets and it no longer affects you beast forms through other spells or abilities. If both your intelligence score and charisma score becomes 3 and 6 or lower, respectively, due to this save you become a wolf and forget all your class features, skill proficiencies and saving proficiency while loosing access to all your racial traits as well - For all intents and purposes you are now a normal wolf, with perhaps a larger health pool and better proficiency, keeping your character level noted. If your ever become a wolf, the only way to restore your elven self is through outside forces, whereas an Awaken spell automatically restores your suppressed conscience allowing you to make a wisdom save against a DC 8 + 1/2 character level to return to your elven form, yet if you fail this save you must wait 24 hours to try change back, being subject to The Call of The Wild immediately thereafter, alas the save DC has reset as well - Both these saves continue to increase by 1 every 24 hour or long rest period. A Greater Restoration can do the same, yet the caster needs to make a spellcaster check(d20 + proficiency score + spellcaster ability mod.) against a DC = 8 + 1/2 character level + wisdom modifier, if succesful you are restored as per the spell, regaining your elven conscience and form - If it fails, you can only be affected again after a 24 hour period. A Wish spell can and will automatically restore your conscience as well.
(1) Forgotten realms Wiki, Lythari, last edited: 26 of July, 2016. Source: http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Lythari (2) Wikipedia, Elf (Dungeon & Dragons) - Forgotten Realms - Lythari, last edited: 12 of January, 2017. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)#Forgotten_Realms