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Beneath the surface of the ocean lies an exotic and a alien world, complete with canyons, mountains, volcanoes, and forests. Inky depths conceal sunken cities, sleeping deities, and titanic monsters. For residents of the aquatic realm, the sunny world of the air is as mysterious and unknown as the black depths of the sea.
Players wanting their characters to be ocean dwellers can use these variants. Or, their characters might encounter these races while journeying beneath the sea.
The following cultural attributes are common to most aquatic races.
Personality: An aquatic race usually shares the temperament and interests of the standard race, but its members tend to be more serene than their landborn cousins.
Physical Description: A water creature is taller and thinner than a standard member of her race. Her feet and hands are webbed to facilitate swimming. (Aquatic elves even have fins along their limbs that serve the same purpose.) A water creature’s skin ranges from pale green to dark blue. Her hair usually matches her skin color but may be one or two shades darker.
Water dwellers wear very little clothing, and what they do wear tends to cling tightly to their bodies. Some favor jewelry made of coral and other undersea treasures.
Relations: The attitudes of water creatures tend to be very similar to those of their landborn cousins. Members of aquatic races generally treat landborn creatures with guarded pleasantness on the rare occasions when they meet.
Alignment: Having avoided most of the political, economic, and military turmoil of the surface world, water creatures tend to take a much more placid view of life than their landborn cousins do. Members of an aquatic race favor neutrality in at least one aspect of alignment, if not both.
Lands: The civilizations of water dwellers often mirror those of their standard races, though water folk favor more loosely organized governments and more open societies. Water creatures generally have plenty of space available for building, so they rarely structure their habitats as densely populated cities. Instead, undersea races prefer to maintain loosely defined territories in which families and individuals can carve out their own niches.
Religion: Water creatures usually pay homage to at least one deity related to oceans, storms, or nature. Otherwise, their worshiping habits are similar to those of their standard races.
Language: Water creatures speak any languages spoken by members of their standard race. Many also learn Aquan to facilitate communication with other underwater creatures.
Adventurers: While there are plenty of adventures to be found beneath the waves, water creatures occasionally venture onto land to fulfill some important goal. Some are lured by the alien ways of the surface people, others feel a wanderlust that can be tamed only by walking the earth.
General Aquatic Racial Traits
All aquatic races have the following racial traits.
- Aquatic: An aquatic race gains the aquatic subtype. An aquatic creature can breathe underwater. It cannot also breathe air unless it also has the amphibious special quality. An aquatic creature can hold its breath outside the water for 2 rounds per point of Constitution. After that, it begins to suffocate.
- Swim speed: An aquatic creature always has a swim speed. It can move through water at its swim speed without making Swim checks. It has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.
- Bonus Language: Aquan. Aquatic races are familiar with the language of water-based creatures.
Aquatic Race Level Adjustments
None of the aquatic races have level adjustments when your entire campaign is set underwater and all the PCs have the aquatic subtype, or when playing a nonaquatic campaign. The advantages gained by an aquatic character when in an aquatic environment even out with those of other aquatic characters, and their disadvantages in nonaquatic environments make up for any advantages they might enjoy.
However, when a mix of aquatic and nonaquatic characters occurs in an aquatic or ship-based campaign, aquatic characters enjoy a distinct advantage over their land-based cousins. In this case, consider applying a +1 level adjustment for all aquatic races, due to their swim speed, improved low-light vision or darkvision, and other special abilities.