Excerpts 12/03/2004


Races of Destiny
By David Noonan, Eric Cagle, and Aaron Rosenberg



In most D&D worlds, human societies dominate much of the map, and human culture is standard by which other cultures are described. Despite other races' unusual powers and long histories, it is humanity and its related races that seem poised to control the future. This book focuses on these races whose destiny, for good or ill, is tied to the fate of the human empires of your world: humans, races that have some human blood within their veins, races that were once fully human, and the panoply of strange races that either live peacefully among humans or have successfully infiltrated human society. Players will find new feats, spells, and prestige classes for their characters -- and a new race that may be inspiration for the next character they create. DMs will find a wealth of building blocks for adventures. Whether you're looking for an oddball race to play or your players' next archenemy, you'll find something useful here.

Chapter 4: Other Races of Destiny

While rarely the first race to appear on any given world, humans soon established their dominance in numerous lands across the multiverse. A remarkable variety of human-descended races (such as half-elves and half-orcs) and creatures associated with humanity has arisen, perhaps as a natural result of humans sharing territory with magic and other humanoids. While these races don't always have an overt connection to humans, they're usually found living in human cultures.

Using This Chapter

The races described here are presented as an option for PCs as alternate character races. These races also give the Dungeon Master new options when building foes to confront the characters. Sly doppelgangers, friendly mongrelfolk, violent skulks, and secretive underfolk inhabit the world around the characters and sometimes become heroes themselves, while remaining unknown to the general populace.

Sharakim

Sharakim, due to their human roots,
are a special breed indeed.

Humans assume that all orcs are the same -- ugly, brutish, violent, and determined to kill anyone who stands in their path. These suppositions rarely prove false. But even orcs display variation within the species, and one group in particular stands apart from all others.

The sharakim (the name means "the tainted" or "those with taint" in an old human dialect) were once human. At least, their forebears were. Legends claim that, long ago, all humans resided in the village of Desh. They lived peacefully until a hunter named Sharak killed a sacred stag, and all those who ate of the stag's flesh became ill. Many died, but others were transformed, twisted into hideous caricatures of humanity by the evil they had committed. The humans who escaped the curse scattered, leaving Desh to be lost forever. Those creatures who had once been human gathered together and fled as well, making their own way in the world but forever after hated by humans because they stood as a reminder of that sin. These became the sharakim.

Sharakim live in small villages and towns. They are comfortable in hills and mountains, especially places that feature long shadows and high cliffs on every side. They are eager for outside contact, and thus settle close to other races. They make frequent forays to nearby towns and encourage their neighbors to visit them, whereupon they take the part of lavish hosts. Sharakim spend their waking hours fighting the impression people assume based on their appearance; only in the privacy of their own homes do they relax and gather their thoughts.

Personality: Sharakim learn from early childhood that they were created from sin, and that others believe their existence is a curse upon the world. This knowledge makes them sullen when they are alone, and eager to please when they are with other races. Humans compare them to puppies, which hate to be alone and accept any treatment because it means attention. Sharakim despise other orcs, seeing them as examples of what they could have become, and they make every effort to distinguish themselves from those monsters. They bathe frequently and are fastidious about their clothing and manners. They learn to speak Common and strive to pronounce the words without an accent, which is difficult because of their tusks. Sharakim villages are models of tidiness and order, each house carefully placed in relation to its neighbors, and each one kept spotlessly clean. Sharakim strive to better themselves individually, constantly improving their knowledge and skills to make themselves worthy of social interaction.

Physical Description: Sharakim stand between 5 feet and 6 feet tall and weigh 140 to 275 pounds. Their skin ranges from light gray to coal black; their hair is thick but not coarse, and such a deep black it seems almost blue, though some sharakim sport silver or white streaks. They usually have either jet-black or slate-gray eyes, and more rarely eyes of dark blue or dark green. Small, curved horns protrude from both temples, and their lower canines are sharp tusks that jut up past their upper lips. Sharakim noses are usually short and snubbed, with wide nostrils.

Sharakim dress as well as their circumstances allow, to distinguish themselves from orcs. They prefer finely made shirts and pants, with soft leather boots and gloves. Many wear hats with broad brims, pulled low to cover their horns, while others prefer cloaks with deep hoods. Sharakim keep their thick fingernails trimmed, and their tusks and horns polished. They decorate their horns and tusks, carving them like ivory, capping them with precious metals, or even imbedding gems in them. Their hair is braided or pulled back and held by a fine metal clip. Sharakim hate to expose their feet and hands, because both are oversized and feature thick, talonlike nails.

Relations: Sharakim go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with other races. They greet anyone they meet openly and cheerfully, often in the stranger's native language. Gnomes have the easiest time adjusting to sharakim, being able to look past their appearance and admire their drive and education, and the two races often live near one another, visiting to trade information and goods. Halflings admire the determination of sharakim but still feel uncomfortable around them, and become shy in their presence. Elves and dwarves do not trust the sharakim, proclaiming that an orc in fancy clothes is still an orc. They cannot deny the race's intelligence and refinement, but they still suspect a sinister motive behind the civilized behavior. Humans find themselves torn in their reactions -- the sharakim look like orcs, but they act completely human. Human merchants happily do business with sharakim, but priests suspect darker intentions behind their eagerness, and fighters prefer not to trust them as comrades in battle.

Alignment: Sharakim love rules, because they like to show that they can understand and obey such strictures. They strive to be generous and helpful, making lawful good their most common alignment. Some sharakim lean toward neutrality, and a few are actively chaotic, preferring an individual approach to a mandated path.

Sharakim Lands: Sharakim live in villages nestled among high hills or low mountains. They prefer the protection of cliffs around them, but they also like to be close to other races, so their homes are usually no more than a few days' travel from a human or gnome village. Sharakim do not like open water, preferring to avoid settlements located next to rivers or lakes.

Sharakim can be found in large human cities, where they delight in the number of people present and in the chance to mingle with everyone openly. They purchase homes and redecorate them, creating elaborate carvings on door frames and columns and hanging intricate tapestries on the walls. Sharakim are known as excellent hosts no matter where they live, because their homes are always luxurious and well maintained, and because they go out of their way to make guests comfortable.

Religion: The sharakim have no deity of their own. They abhor Gruumsh, the god of the orcs, and most do not feel themselves worthy to pray to any human god. Those who dare approach a human deity pray to Heironeous, asking him to look past their twisted exteriors and see the honor and lawfulness within.

Language: All sharakim speak Common, and most speak at least one other language, usually Dwarven, Elven, or Gnome. Though a few sharakim learn Orc -- the better to understand their enemies -- they will not speak Orc under any circumstances, and nothing written in that language is allowed in their homes.

Sharakim love to read. They collect books in a variety of languages, and many who live in cities become booksellers.

Names: Sharakim prefer to take either human names or names that fit with the society around them. They love long names, since short names seem brutish -- sharakim never use an abbreviation of anyone's name, and they insist that friends and business partners use their full names as well. A sharakim's last name is his clan name, and his given name is of human derivation. A sharakim is named at birth, but when he reaches adulthood his elders select a new name for him, one that fits his personality and talents. Sharakim keep their birth name as a middle name. Sometimes a sharakim adds a third name once he is older and settled in a particular business; then his adult name becomes his first middle name, and the birth name remains as a second middle name.

Male Names: Alastair, Benjamin, Carrington, Daniel, Malcolm, Nathaniel, Reginald, Winchester.

Female Names: Aurora, Bedelia, Christina, Clarissa, Elizabeth, Margaret, Winnifred.

Clan Names: Andromar, Barechian, Helefern, Lochlaman, Malendik, Norferat, Sarekar.

Adventurers: Every sharakim feels he has to prove his worth, both to himself and to others. He strives to show that he is as smart, as noble, as honorable, and as skilled as any human or dwarf or elf, because he believes this effort will win their respect. Most sharakim, upon reaching adulthood, leave their villages to go adventuring. This allows them to encounter strangers, make new friends, and hone their skills. Earning riches is less important than winning renown, and a sharakim who is immortalized in song is the pride of his clan.

Sharakim Racial Traits

+2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma: Sharakim are naturally strong but their size makes them clumsy. Their monstrous appearance works against them in social settings, but their culture forces them to be well educated.

Humanoid (human): Sharakim are humanoid creatures with the human subtype.

Medium: As Medium creatures, sharakim have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.

Sharakim base land speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision: Sharakim can see in the dark out to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and sharakim can function just fine with no light at all.

+1 natural armor bonus: Sharakim skin is tough and difficult to pierce.

Shadow Affinity (Ex): Sharakim are born to darkness, and despite their claims they operate best in night and shadow. In areas of darkness or shadowy illumination, a sharakim gains a +2 racial bonus on Hide, Move Silently, Search, and Spot checks.

Light Sensitivity (Ex): Sharakim take a -1 penalty to attack rolls in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.

+1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs (including half-orcs): Sharakim despise orcs, and learn special combat techniques that enable them to fight them more effectively.

Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, and Orc.

Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass sharakim's wizard class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

Level adjustment +1.

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