Mormolycean (3.5e Race)
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Mormolyceans are creatures of beauty and grace in a way that permeates throughout their being and society. They are wonderfully well suited for “refined” classes such as bards, wizards, and sorcerers, but poorly suited to “brute” classes such as fighters or *gasp* barbarians. Unlike elves, who favor natural and simple things, Mormolyceans consider nature a necessary bore at best and a blank canvas at worst. They don’t recoil at greenery and scenic views, but rather find them imperfect and random rather than inspired.
Superficiality may be the key word to describe mormolyceans, but no group sees their actual flaws as flaws. A mormolycean is likely to tell you that they are refined, intelligent, convivial, and that anything worth doing is worth doing beautifully. They see the world as a blank canvas and life is meaningless if they cannot beautify it and leave it better than the way that they found it. It is not unknown for a mormolycean settlement to dig up a tree in the surrounding woods only to replant it a few feet away.
Yet, they tend to focus on the finest of things and value that which took endeavor over what may come naturally. This includes a strong sex selection for intelligence and charisma over the practical heartiness and strength of warrior types. In fact, a mormolycean who may seem of average beauty or intelligence amongst the other races of man would find it hard to find a mate or even a casual fling within their society – even amongst themselves.
At times where two undesirable mormolyceans do manage to procreate, the community sometimes takes action by abducting the infant and leaving it to die of exposure.
Mormolyceans are short and slim like elves, standing 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet tall. However, they are more reminiscent of nymphs than elves. Some suggest that they descended from nymphs, though others suggest their lack of innate magical abilities suggest that the nymphs descended from them. Their frames are thin and frail with even their men being considered effeminate to most other races.
They vary widely in coloration, like humans, with variations from light to dark. However, in lands which mormolyceans are native to there is a tendency, due to common ancestry, to find lighter skins in the areas around the poles and darker skins in the equatorial regions. In regions which they are not native to – the mix is rather random because they hold no ethnic animosity – their superficiality is limited to intelligence and beauty, in whichever form they take. There is no difference in temperament between the various ethnicities of mormolyceans, nor any stereotype that they accept as valid – they greatly modify their surroundings so there is no evolutionary disadvantage for such frivolities in any mormolycean settlements.
Some darker skinned mormolyceans are periodically confused for wild elves amongst the more bigoted races – an insult they take doubly as hard since they not only consider themselves the pinnacle of culture, but they consider all elves to be a bit wild.
Much as the primordial carrot was specially bred to give all sorts of colors: black, white, purple, blue, green, pink, red, etc, and finally orange – mormolyceans have, in times past, subjected to themselves to such breeding programs solely to breed in new colorations for themselves. The results have produced hairs that are naturally pink, purple, blue, and green; it also produced some variations of pink and purple in skin and eye colorations. All of these are recessive traits. These are rare traits, but prized in mormolycean culture, precisely for their rarity, and they appear throughout their populations as different kingdoms had literally exchanged populations in trade deals to bring these colors into their own.
You would be hard pressed to ever come across a mormolycean wearing drab peasant rags or wielding a simple broad sword – rather they insist on dressing in fancy and colorful garbs and carrying ornate, often masterwork, weaponry.
Mormolyceans hold no preconceived notions of the other races that cannot be easily overcome if they find them beautiful and intelligent – even half-orcs who stand out from their brethren enough in these ways have been welcomed into mormolycean communities. However, they have their own reputation amongst others. Perhaps the most nefarious of these come from times when they have aided vampires by bringing prey to them. There are tales of mormolycean women enticing a man of another race to follow her for them only to be feasted upon by the vampire. Some cultures still believe the mormolyceans to actually be vampiric creatures who can change their form to lure in prey – but they aren’t.
They came up as a race amongst the elves and consider them to be some slightly refined wild people capable of great works of art at time, but generally too base to spend much time around. Elves love to visit mormolycean settlements for pure amusement, but find them unnatural and threatening to local animal populations and so rarely stay long.
Mormolyceans enjoy the ingenuity of humans and their drive to shape the world around them, but they are bothered by the rigid hierarchies and wealth disparity because it means that the masses live in squalor and their homes and neighborhoods are visual blights on the landscape. These lower classes of humans, in turn, tell stories of the magical mormolyceans who come by when you are asleep and leave fine clothing and decorate the streets – when they don’t think mormolyceans are vampiric temptresses – apparently unaware of the insult that the mormolyceans are merely making them “presentable.”
Their lore tells of the dwarves – the creations from times when the ugly and dim-witted bred and became misshapen little things. Helissara, their goddess of beauty, cast them away into the mountains so they would be hidden from her eyes and admonished them for being so careless. As a result, the two groups have a mutual disliking though not an outright hostility toward one another.
Halflings of high intelligence and charisma are often accepted amongst mormolyceans and they try to get along with everyone and so take no issue with mormolyceans either.
Gnomes are almost always intrigued by mormolyceans and their goods – while the mormolyceans tolerate the gnomes, appreciating their comedy and pranks despite their awkward appearance.
Fey often make good allies so long as the local settlement accounts for and ensures the safety and prosperity of the animals of the area. It is believed that the Fey had taught them how to meld nature into their settlements at one point.
Vampires are an unexpected ally of the mormolyceans – but as a developed vampire will be boosted in both intelligence and charisma, many have grabbed the attention of a helpful populace of mormolyceans. Such vampires are unlikely to feed upon a mormolycean knowing they can procure them much more than their own blood and can be easily pliable. In fact, mormolyceans reaching middle age and worried of their beauty fading have sought to become spawn of vampires for no reason other than to preserve this beauty.
Mormolyceans do not tend toward good, nor evil; toward law, nor chaos. You can find members of this race among any alignment, but what stands out is that their alignment tells you a lot about how they feel is the most effective way to create and preserve beauty. The chaotic good of gifting human peasants with fine clothes and beautifying their homes is driven by the selfish desire of their own senses. The lawful evil of seizing babes from their cribs and leave them to die of exposure is not driven by malice, but from fear they will taint their society and anger Helissara. Non-mormolycean experts on the race often conclude they are too shallow to truly have any true alignment.
Originating in lands alongside the elves, their settlements do not hide in the woods but rather shout out their existence with imposing intricate shapes not found in nature and vibrant colors that cannot be confused with the forest by anyone the least bit familiar with forests in general. Their buildings are often made of stone, because stone lasts, and can be sculpted with intricate patterns and sculptures. They often use halfling or gnomes as middlemen to purchase fine marbles and other rich stone from the dwarves in the mountains to build their structures. Any building to have stood for 50 years is to be expected to have its sides finely carved into intricate designs, often of deep personal meaning to the owner.
Bright banners and streamers mark the streets and it seems that every road is an avenue with fountains and trees filling the center partition – while the finest ones are found in wealthy parts of town, even the poor areas seem extraordinarily beautiful. It’s no surprise as they lack any meaningful class structure and the most hierarchical settlements elect monarchs at the old monarch’s death – with applicants often taking up the task of beautifying areas of town in need as proof of their eventual worthiness to take up the mantle.
Music and performances fill the streets with many of the free shows provided by young, unmarried mormolyceans as a form of a courting ritual, displaying their worthiness as a mate. Any mormolycean settlement will have double the number of theaters, taverns, tailors, and such businesses than the average city. Parks and gardens also litter the landscape seeking to balance the health of the land with their own opulence. In fact, a common design element is to build up the land around a long strip of land to allow wildlife to use it as a passing which doubles as a zoo-like attraction. However, these depressions also are often filled with traps that can be set off manually as they would otherwise be a major flaw in defenses.
Artistic creations tend to cost 20% more than normal in societies while mundane and plain armor, weapons, and foodstuffs tend to be half price and rare – usually the proceeds of some battle here or there with non-mormolyceans. In fact, it is sometimes known for such items to be literally rendered for a song as the momentary song – if the performer is capable - holds more value to a mormolycean than some clanky chainmail that is tarnishing.
The chief goddess of Mormolyceans is Helissara – a goddess of beauty who demands continual improvement. She is said to have cast the dwarves into the mountains to hide them from her sight. Other racial deities revolve around the themes of artifice, art, music, and beauty.
The Mormolycean language uses a script very similar to elven, and is very nuanced and known for sounding beautiful. Even mundane writings, such as laws, technical documents, and treatises are known for having a poetic quality that foreigners perceive on a range of a pleasant surprise to wildly inappropriate for the text’s purpose. How exactly does one caress the noses of visitors to a stable like the wind caresses the hair of a young maid anyway? More than one civil ordinance that became defunct centuries ago is still recited by minstrels for its aesthetic qualities.
Mormolycean names tend to hold no meaning but rather simply sound nice – and they may name their children names that they liked from other cultures. Purely mormolycean names tend to be filled with pleasing sounds, with male names ending flamboyantly and female names ending softly. Most are unique in their immediate area.
As such, compounded with their disdain for heredity (a mormolycean must earn their place, not be handed it for the actions of others), they have no family names. Rather, a mormolycean is granted a name at birth by their parents which sticks with them unless they are transgender and then gets a cognomen – a nickname in their language that reflects their unique contributions and characteristics.
Fahziall, Herodenpheles, Gazarbo, Firenzio, Mikandalis, Tiestambryn.
Trysfella, Jifarelle, Allyryn, Bassetha, Tharynnia.
Mormolycean adventurers generally come in two flavors. The first are those who are uncharacteristically dull physically or mentally for mormolycean society and thus are voluntary outcasts to live among those who will find them beautiful and witty even if they do not even think of themselves as such. The second are those looking for inspiration and muse in the world outside their home – perhaps to one day create some great work of some sort. However, as always, alternate motives always exist and this only is a macroscopic pattern. Few forget the story of Garomaccio Dylumarys (“The Frail”) who set off declaring himself a mighty knight only to be beaten to death by peasant farmers shortly thereafter. Garomaccio set out purely with the intention to express the absurdity of his choice as a form of art.
- +2 Dexterity, +4 Intelligence, +4 Charisma, -4 Strength, -2 Constitution. Mormolyceans focus upon mental pursuits over physical ones.
- Humanoid (mormolycean)
- Medium: As medium creatures, mormolyceans have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Mormolycean base land speed is 40 feet.
- 4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level, since mormolyceans are versatile and capable. (The 4 skill points at 1st level are added on as a bonus, not multiplied in; see Chapter 4: Skills.)
- Racial Skills: Appreciators of the arts, mormolyceans receive a +4 on perform checks and + 2 on craft checks that involve creating beauty. However, their aversion to the mundane, in turn, causes them to take a -4 penalty on professions and a -2 penalty on craft checks to create mundane items of no artistic value. They may overcome these crafting penalties by putting an artistic flair into what they create, but this causes their crafting to take 20% longer and cost quadruple the gp price compared to normal.
- Due to their superficial nature, their will saves take into account the other creature’s charisma modifier. Charisma bonuses reduce their will save point for point while charisma penalties increase their will save point for point.
- +1 natural armor bonus – a mormolycean’s skin is supple, but thick.
- Automatic Languages: common, mormolycean. Bonus Languages: elven, sylvan, gnome, orc, goblin, giant, gnoll, draconic.
- Favored Class: Bard.
- Level Adjustment: +0
|Middle Age1||Old2||Venerable3||Maximum Age|
|200 years||296 years||395 years||+5d% years|
|Gender||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Male||4' 5"||+2d6||80 lb.||× (1d6) lb.|
|Female||4' 5"||+2d6||75 lb.||× (1d6) lb.|
The creatures herein described are based loosely off the Greek myth of Mormo (a.k.a. Mormon; a.k.a. Mormolyceae). They have no known relation to The Book of Mormon or such texts. The Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 173) links mental traits (intelligence, wisdom, and charisma) at a 2:1 ratio with physical traits (strength, dexterity, and wisdom). Where this is applied here, it provides a balanced statistic for racial modifier offsets. Additional skill bonuses are offset by equivalent skill penalties.