Thri-Manipulus (5e Race)
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The group trudges through the swamp, machetes in hand. Slicing past vine after vine, seconds feel like minutes, minutes feel like hours. "How long have we been walking?", one in the back groans. "About three hours now, and safer ground is at least another four away", a second mutters, followed by collective sighs of disappointment. "Thought I'd at least see some action, this is supposed to be Ynarl terri-", the man is cut short by a fast rumbling, as if the ground itself is being pulled apart underneath them. Collective shouting of expletives at the man who spoke the name of the wrong clan quickly follow, as they all begin to clump together into a circle, hoping to not die. The quakes grow stronger, as scores of bright green bug-like men leap from the earth, primitive weapons in hand. They were determined that they did not reach safer ground.
He charged, as did his companions. He was much larger, stronger than them, better equipped than them. His actions earned him that right which his brethren don't yet have. The gleaming white skin he wore was scarred, rough, from battles before, dirt and blood collecting in the holes as he barreled into the enemy. Dozens of men and women entered his path, all split by the screaming axe he wielded with efficiency, until the battlefield was reduced to near quiet. Both sides had seemed to have slaughtered eachother, and only their champions remained. They were alike in almost all aspects, seperated only by belief and hues. They moved, circling, replicating the other's actions perfectly. Incomprehensible words were uttered by each, as they both, within half of a second, leaped directly into eachother, both weapons wailing like nails on a chalkboard.
The Thri-Manipulus is a bizzare race in all aspects. From their incredibly mysterious origins and constantly splitting and divided culture, to their appearance and even their language, from an outsiders view, they are the complete opposite of normal. While seemingly very similar in ways to the Thri-Kreen, hence the name, to assume normal evolutionary divergence is to make a great mistake.
The Thri-Manipulus shares several similarities to its relatives, the Thri-Kreen, although taking on a more beetle-esc appearance, instead of a mantis. Smooth, interlocking chitin covers their bodies, with a rather small vestigial pronged horn on their heads.
They tend to take on varied colors, ranging from pale blues to vibrant greens and pastel pinks to muted yellows. Often when a new clan is formed, the colors of the clan slowly change over time to something else, but how is a mystery to most. However, one unchanging color is that on the shoulder, generally based on the subrace, Terran has greens, Sub has reds, and High has blues.
The different subraces of Thri-Manipulus all tend to have different body shapes and heights. For example, Terran Thri-Manipulus feature much thicker chitin, along with heights well above human averages, ranging from anywhere between 6'4" and 7'. Generally, all Terran Thri-Manipulus feature incredibly strong legs.
The Subterran Thri-Manipulus are significantly shorter than their aboveground brethren, ranging from 5'8" to 6'2". While at a first glance, they may seem like runts of the litter compared to Terrans, but to do so is to make a very poor mistake. They have shovel like claws, and all of their chitin is angular, both of these things allowing them to burrow easily and effectively.
If you compare Terran to humans and Subterran to dwarves, Highterran Thri-Manipulus would be compared to elves. Slender, and with much weaker chitin, their loads are lightened. They tend to size up somewhere between the Terran and Subterran, about 6' and 6'8. While the Subterran have large, shovel like claws that function just as well when used to attack, the Highterran feature significantly smaller hook-like claws on their hands and feet, allowing them to attach to vertical surfaces, through either catching onto the materials, or by excreting small amounts of an incredibly sticky liquid naturally produced by these claws. And, while they cannot properly fly with them, they all sport rather weak sets of wings, allowing them to instead glide effectively.
Thri-Manipulus history is an incredibly hard thing to come by. They almost never seem to write things down, sticking to spoken history. However, these incredibly useful people with specks of knowledge are almost always sent to battle whenever possible, dying in the process half the time. This is generally due to a need for warriors, not spite. Most structures are destroyed by rival clans, so there are no ruins to find.
While general progress might suggest them to be a long lived race, their own creations match the lizardfolk at best. This is believed to be another side effect of sending all potential engineers to wars of attrition, but most clans have no other choice.
However, some pieces of history yet still remain. Many of the honor guard found in clans wield incredibly powerful magical weapons. Yet they, being an almost completely magically incompetent race, are incapable of even understanding the things, let alone creating new ones. This may suggest the presence of another sentient race on the island, and an incredibly powerful one at that, but zero trace of them has been found.
These miracle weapons are often passed down from clan to clan, generally unwillingly, and many thri-manipulus seem to believe that these armaments have been with them since their inception. While unfounded, there isn't exactly any more reasonable belief.
The Thri-Manipulus are broken up into violent clans, large families that all hold strong beliefs and fight wildly differently. The way these clans are managed varies, but it often takes the forms of basic military structure, where groups of "unchanged" are controlled by an honor guard, who serve a single leader, which has generally taken on other mutations. This structure can vary, sometimes everyone is managed by the leader, sometimes there's multiple leaders, and even occasionally there is no organized structure, but this is the most common shape their miniature societies take.
More often than not, these clans are incredibly xenophobic, and their only communication with other clans is through warfare. This is incredibly common, to the point where a clan participating in less than two wars at a time has never been recorded in the roughly twenty years the civilized world has known they existed. Bizarrely enough, this sheer hatred doesn't seem to extend to outsiders, just other members of their own race.
Among their bizzare biology, the creation of an Honor Guard is one of the most strange. After reaching a certain level of martial prowess, their bodies can rapidly mutate and "evolve" into a superior form. What happens as a part of this is up to the subrace, although they almost always grow larger.
Within the Terran subrace is likely one of the most simple. Already famed for their very tough bodies, the Terran honor guard go a step further. While not increasing in density or size, their chitin suddenly becomes much, much harder to pierce. After this occurs, their muscle density also seems to jump up.
The Subterran changes are a bit more odd. They quickly shed their claws, and new ones grow in their place. Unlike the shovels they used to have, they now feature sharp, pyramid like claws, covered in small bumps. Of course, this would cause them to lose their digging abilities, however when moving them closer together, they all begin to spin in place, reaching top speeds of 120 RPM. It is completely unknown what generates this force. Then their horn begins to increase in size, the first time this has happened since childhood. Immediately after it has reached full size, it rapidly delivers sensory information to their minds about the surrounding area they're touching.
Likely the least bizzare is the Highterran changes. Where normally, their wings hardly keep them off the ground, the transformation causes them to almost triple in size, remaining relatively at the same weight/speed. This allows for easy vertical takeoffs, hovering, and kneejerk movements whenever nessicary.
It isn't restricted to physical changes, however. Generally, the thri-manipulus are unquestioning, subservient warriors, almost never ignoring a direct order. However, upon becoming an honor guard, this mindset immediately shifts towards that of individualism. This tends to turn them into both capable fighters and leaders. This itself does not increase their mental capacity in any way, it simply causes them to think a lot more, generally for themselves.
This "mental shift" is not without potential concequence, however. When they begin to think more, their ideals may begin to shift away from that of other honor guard and the entire clan, leading splinter factions to exist. The creation of a new honor guard is the leading cause of new clan creation.
The Thri-Manipulus have rather strange naming schemes. Since they are so dedicated to their own clans, and how each member of a family is a lot like the other, they generally keep the same name barring the prefix, indicating gender, and the suffix, indicating subrace. How they differentiate each other is based on their actions, and they are given a title based on this.
Clan Name: -tarix-, -fiern-, -voile-, -pharx-
Male Prefix: to-, ra-, se-, na-
Female Prefix: ay-, or-, ep-, iz-
Terran Suffix: -tae, -gra, -pri, -bur
Subterran Suffix: -ghr, -kar, -raz, -vry
Highterran Suffix: -qui, -zhu, -whe, -tuo
Title: the Cowardly, the Brutal, the Strange, the Energetic
Examples: Ja-merox-dra the Cunning, Un-kloan-cyu the Flightless
Ability Score Increase. Your ability score increase is determined by your subrace.
Age. The Thri-Manipulus don't live long, due to their poor life choices, or very bad life spans. They mature incredibly quickly, at the strength of an adult around the age of five, having no decline of physical or mental ability in any way until around their mid thirties, where they then begin to rapidly die.
Alignment. Thri-Manipulus are wildly varied. Between the centuries of infighting and bickering, the splitting and absorption of clans, no Thri-Manipulus tends to think the same. They do tend towards extremes of law and chaos, but good and evil for them is a complete wildcard.
Size. Your size is medium
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Familial Memory. You are proficient with two skills of your choice. One of these skills must be Intelligence based.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.
Subrace. The Thri-Manipulus are divided into three subraces. Choose between the Terran, Subterran, and Highterran subraces.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2.
Natural Armor. Your chitin is thick, the strongest found in your race. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 13 + your Dexterity 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.
Strong Legs. You are made to march and keep marching. Your movement speed increases to 35 feet.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.
Natural Armor. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity 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.
Shovel Claws. You can quickly dig, and dirt runs off of you like nothing. As an action, while your hands are empty, you can give yourself a burrow speed of 15 feet until the end of your next turn.
Natural Weapons. Your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal piercing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Natural Armor. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 11 + your Dexterity 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.
Weak Wings. You have wings, but they aren't as strong as other races. When you fall and are not incapacitated, you can subtract up to 100 feet from your fall when calculating your fall damage and can move horizontally 2 feet for every 1 foot you fall.
Hook Claws. You can't fly upwards, but using your claws, you can get to high places and fall from there. While your hands are empty, you have a climb speed of 20 feet.
Random Height and Weight
|6′ 2″||+1d12||175 lb.||× (2) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
|5′ 6″||+1d8||160 lb.||× (2) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
|5′ 8″||+1d10||120 lb.||× (2) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
When creating a Thri-Manipulus character, you can use the following table of traits, ideals, bonds and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.
|1||I live for combat, and not much else!|
|1||Curiosity. I don't have much time on this world, so I must learn everything I can about it.|
|2||Respect. If it's not a fair fight, it's not a good fight.|
|3||Loyalty. The leader/elder/matriarch/patriarch is good, the leader is great.|
|1||I was banished from my clan years ago, and I wish to earn my right back in.|
|2||I love wildlife, in all of it's bizarre shapes and sizes.|
|3||I pin almost any coincidences on higher powers, and praise my superiors for their actions and inactions.|
|6||I abandoned my family in search of a better life, and found the mercenary companies.|
|1||When the adrenaline kicks in, sometimes I get a little too bloodthirsty.|
|2||I can hardly understand technology, and fear it.|
|3||I'm too prideful to even recognize my mistakes, sometimes.|
|4||Being away from my family takes a serious toll on me.|
|5||Cowardice comes natural to me.|
|6||I rely on instinct too often.|
Artificer Thri-Manipulus are just about as rare as wizards, if not rarer. Between poor lifespans, relatively weak intelligence, and a technology level comparable to the lizardfolk, these are one in a billion kinds of people.
Barbarians, to no one's surprise, are very common among the Thri-Manipulus, specifically around the Terran subrace. Trading blows and blind fury is a normal day in the life of a particularly war hungry one.
Fighters are, more or less, the embodiment of everything the Thri-Manipulus are. Violence.
Monk traditions are, somehow, a semi-natural occurence. While not entirely centered on peace, generally they focus on "improvement of the self". While not super common, they do appear in almost every subrace.
Rogues are very common among the Subterran subrace. A lot of their culture is centered around "striking where unexpected", leaning very heavily into rogue-ish ideals.
Sorcerers are rather odd within the Thri-Manipulus race. Traditional origins are, more or less, impossible within the very minimal time frame of being exposed to the outside world. However, occasional sorcerers do appear within their ranks, seemingly empowered by Batheron's Heel itself. It is completely unknown how this occurs, but a telltale sign of this is inherent psychic power.
De-Bhurd-kra the Friendly, also known as De-Bhurd-Kra the Brutal, is a mercenary part of the Martinstown Guild. Quick with both words and knives, he's been a useful tool to the guild and a great ambassador for his people. However, those that are alive and know anything about the Bhurd clan is that they exclusively produce backstabbing traitors. Luckily no one has lived long enough to share this information, keeping his soon to be assassination attempt a secret.
Uv-Vheil-Nhe the Benevolent is the matriarch of her clan, one with much less violent tendencies due to their goals of unification. She has entered a budding alliance with the recent Aldthar Embassy, an offshore agent of the kingdom, seemingly out of common interest. Not well built physically like her brethren, she was instead gifted with immense psychic power, some of the strongest the race has seen in decades. Even with this incredibly powerful gift, any form of unification remains a pipedream.
Fu-Wulte-Nel the Axebearer is naught but a regular footsoldier in his clan. Locked into eternal combat with the Tvelt clan, he has participated in dozens upon dozens of battles, somehow surviving through them. His title, Axebearer, comes from his retrieval of several priceless artifacts dropped by the dead of both armies, however this never has served him well.
These tables assist in creating random clans, whether for NPCs or player characters. However, these are not the be all end all.
Author's Note: I highly reccomend using these tables simply as a jumping off point. While, yes, regular old killbots can be interesting in their own right, I believe the most interesting clans come from breaking some of the preset rules. For example, their language is completely unchanging, and hasn't changed in forever, thus, the Kryek found a new word. They are generally pretty bad at magic, so the Qeros exist. Essentially, don't restrain yourself by sticking to the tables if you want to make more interesting clans, alright?
What subrace makes up this clan?
What do members of this clan look like?
How big is the clan?
|1-5||The clan is dead, you and maybe one or two more survivors are still alive|
|6-15||This clan was recently founded, and has anywhere from 10 to 15 members.|
|16-50||Being around for a few years, this clan has built their numbers up to around 35 or so members.|
|86-95||Powerful and respected, these clans almost hit the 90s in numbers.|
|96-100||A well established clan such as this might have well over 100 people.|
Almost every clan out there is hyperfocused on a few things. What are they focused on?
|1||Honorbound. Live by the sword, die by the sword.|
|2||Religious Fanatics. I commit violence in the name of...|
|3||Hatred of Another. Man, screw this other clan.|
|4||Ecofacistic. We must protect the wildlife of this place from the invaders that harvest them!|
|5||Science(?). We've been technologically stagnant for too long! We must do something about it!|
|6||Relatively Peaceful. Perhaps mass murder is best left avoided.|
How does this clan prefer to fight? Terran clans stick towards more brute force, Subterran play mostly with underhanded tactics, and Highterran attempt some form of elegence.
|d6||Terran Combat Preference|
|1||All Out Attacks. Scouting patrols? Send the entire militia!|
|2||Mounted Combat. Charging without needing to use your own legs frees up some energy you can use for hitting things.|
|3||One on One. Impractical, but practicality is dishonorable.|
|4||Siege Weaponry. One person can fire a few small arrows, but what about several people shooting one, much bigger arrow?|
|d6||Subterran Combat Preference|
|1||Mass Ambush. They didn't see us coming the first time, so how about the fifth time?|
|2||Traps. There's one thing better than a sneak attack, and that's a sneak attack you don't need to be around for.|
|3||Assassinations. It's so much easier to stab things that don't think they're going to be stabbed.|
|d6||Highterran Combat Preference|
|1||Strike from Afar. I'd rather not be stabbed today.|
|2||Aerial Divebombs. Attacking from above has a good few advantages, notably the extra force generated by falling.|
|3||Psionics. Why get your hands dirty when you can crush them with your mind?|
Members of the Ruten clan are the only thri-manipulus to be found keeping track of things. They seem more dedicated in writing about battles than participating in them, causing their numbers to be a little on the lower side. They sport a speckled, dark green color scheme, allowing them to much better blend in with their environments as they clack away at their primitive records and paintings. To them, combat is more of an art than anything else. A good fight triumphs over resource or land grabbing, which extends into their own fighting styles, pointlessly showboating at every opportunity.
Violent murderers make up a majority of the thri-manipulus race, and the Kryek clan is no different. What sets them apart, however, is the divine spin they put on almost everything. They don't seem to follow any living deity, at least no known ones, but a thing they refer to as "The Outsider". This has a completely different icon and meaning in their native script, which leads to the possible implication that the language isn't as dead as people once thought. They are incredibly superstitious, and almost every situation or happenstance has a documented meaning that the honor guard of said clan has to memorize. A possible cosmic fluke, their chitin takes on an faux gold appearance, glittering slightly. This does not help with their assumed "divinity".
The thri-manipulus are, at best, magically stunted. The Qeros clan seeks to rectify that. Members of this clan, specifically the grunts, find themselves much more questioning than their "loyal without fault" brethren, which, after a few years, led them tumbling quickly down the path of arcane magic. They have found themselves allied with the AMC, the Aldthar Mages Coalition, who they commonly trade wildlife for use and inspection in return of relatively simple spellbooks, which are very often passed from member to member in an attempt of better understanding. While most are incapable of anything beyond cantrips, certain honor guard have been seen casting spells up to around 4th level, considered a miraculous feat among the race. Much more curious than their simple red appearance is their horn, which is longer and actually made solely of bone.