Excerpts 08/05/2005


Stormwrack
By Richard Baker, Joseph D. Carriker,
Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes



Grab your water gear and get ready to make a splash in your D&D campaign with Stormwrack. The third in a series of beautifully illustrated supplements focusing on play in specific environmental climes, Stormwrack contains rules on play in watery environments. Not only are rules for sea campaigns offered, but rules for including water environments in land-based D&D campaigns and dungeon adventures are also covered. The excerpts below include information about the book itself, the darfellan race, the legendary captain prestige class, and the dreaded Sable Drake and her crew.

Darfellan

"For too long we were the prey. Now we are the hunters, and no more shall we mourn."

-- Akilu Sea-Slayer

The darfellans were once a peaceful race of hunter-gatherers who lived among the surf and sea stacks of forbidding coastlines. Then the sahuagin discovered them, beginning a century-long struggle that almost ended in the extinction of the darfellan race. The remaining darfellans are brooding wanderers who crave the chance to exact a final measure of vengeance against the sahuagin who wiped out their kin.

A typical darfellan has a hulking, muscular build with a broad back, powerful arms, and a wide neck and head. A darfellan stands not much over 6 feet tall and weighs nearly 200 pounds.

A darfellan's most striking feature is his or her jet-black skin, glossy and hairless, broken by varied white markings. The size, shape, and location of the white areas distinguish family groups and quickly identify an individual's heritage to other darfellans and those who know how to read darfellan markings. Occasionally individuals are born who are entirely black or, much more rarely, wholly white. Such births are always seen as portentous, and the children are destined to hold positions of importance among the people -- whether they are so inclined or not. The appearance of an entirely white darfellan is taken as a sign of great events, and the people's history is filled with stories of the upheavals that followed such births.

Darfellan Racial Traits

  • +2 Strength, -2 Dexterity: Darfellans have a powerful physique but are somewhat clumsy, especially out of the water.
  • A darfellan's base land speed is 20 feet; darfellan webbed feet are more suited for moving through water than on land.
  • A darfellan's base swim speed is 40 feet. A darfellan has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. A darfellan can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. A darfellan can use the run action while swimming, provided he swims in a straight line.
  • Hold Breath (Ex): A darfellan can hold his breath for a number of rounds equal to 8 x his Constitution score before he risks drowning. For a typical darfellan, this is 96 rounds, or almost 10 minutes.
  • Natural Attack: A darfellan has a natural bite attack that deals 1d6 points of damage. If fighting without a weapon, a darfellan uses his bite as a primary attack, adding 1-1/2 times his Strength bonus to damage. If armed with a weapon, he can use his bite or weapon, as he chooses. When making a full attack, a darfellan normally uses the weapon as his primary attack along with the bite as a natural secondary attack (at -5 attack). If the darfellan gets extra attacks by virtue of a base attack bonus of +6 or higher, he gets them only with his primary attack.
  • Echolocation: In the water, a darfellan can emit a series of whistles, then instinctively pinpoint nearby creatures by hearing the echo. Darfellans have blindsense out to 20 feet, but the blindsense doesn't extend beyond the water.
  • Racial Hatred: A darfellan normally exudes a brooding calm, but the mere presence of a sahuagin is enough to send the darfellan into a blood-mad fury. Darfellans gain a +2 racial bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls when fighting sahuagin.
  • Automatic Languages: Darfellan. Bonus Languages: Aquan, Common.
  • Favored Class: Barbarian.

Darfellan Characters

As a darfellan, you're naturally able to adventure in the water -- and you're no slouch on land, either.

Adventuring Darfellans: As a typical darfellan adventurer, you were probably raised in a hidden community on a forbidding ocean shore somewhere, only to lose kith and kin in a savage sahuagin attack. Now you wander the coastal waters seeking vengeance for your family and to honor the memory of the fallen darfellans.

If your home community still survives, you might be its representative to the outside world, or an exile who can't come home until a particular wrong is righted.

Darfellans hold hunters in great esteem, especially those who battle sahuagin. If you can explain your adventuring career in terms of fighting sahuagin or hunting, other darfellans will laud your career choice.

Character Development: Because you can take 10 on a Swim check, it's a good idea to develop your Swim skill so it reaches the point where you can succeed on common DCs (15, 20, and 25) without needing to pick up the dice. You should give extra consideration to classes that don't use heavy armor, such as barbarian, bard, druid, monk, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, or wizard, because armor will hamper your swimming ability.

Character Names: Akilu, Ekitilooit, Fee'itii!, Keitilili, Likiki!ta, Ootiliktik, Shooki!alui, Silooti!oo, Weililkoo.

Roleplaying a Darfellan

If you ever wanted to roleplay a melancholy character with a tragic past, the darfellan is a good choice. As a survivor of sahuagin genocide, you tend to have a pragmatic or cynical worldview.

Personality: Darfellans tend to brood on the tragic history of their race, regarding it with equal parts pride and sorrow. You might be embittered by your lot in life, or you can make a point of behaving nobly no matter how dire the situation.

Roleplaying Application: You can speak of how you are the last in your line, determined to make your ancestors proud.

Behaviors: At its height, darfellan society was a complex caste-based culture, but now too few survivors remain for a caste system to work. Still, darfellans are apt to categorize people by their occupation or function; learning someone's job is more important than learning someone's name.

Roleplaying Application: You can develop job-based nicknames for the people you encounter. For example, you might say, "Healer, attend me!" rather than "Jozan, I need your help."

Language: The Darfellan language has many compound and multisyllabic words, so it can take a long time to say something. A mix of aggressive consonants, long vowels, and clicks gives the Darfellan tongue an animated, heavily enunciated quality.

Roleplaying Application: Even if you're a barbarian, sprinkle long words into your speaking. And because you're a strong, lumbering creature, speak slowly and in a deep voice.

Darfellan Society

Repeated hunts from the sahuagin have reduced the darfellan population to scattered villages and isolated families on remote stretches of coastline. Once the darfellans had a rich, vibrant, clan-based culture. But now most of those clans are just names known to a few darfellan elders, and much darfellan art and history exists only in the memories of the oldest darfellan survivors.

Alignment: Darfellans can be of any alignment. Many younger darfellans have an affinity for chaotic alignments because they've never lived in an ordered society.

Lands: Darfellan communities once dotted the coastlines of the world. From the ice floes of the arctic to the tropical archipelagos, darfellans could be found wherever ocean and land meet. Some darfellans even lived among the land dwellers, but the urge to swim among the crashing waves drew most back to their ocean home.

Settlements: A typical darfellan settlement is hidden in cliffside sea caves, some above the tide line and some below. Nearby is a dependable food source, often a kelp forest, a river with periodic salmon runs, or a coral reef rich with marine life. While the sahuagin have stopped organized hunts of the darfellans, the darfellans are still careful to keep their lairs concealed from those who would hunt them. Darfellans wandering the seas of the world are careful to say little of their shoreline homes.

Power Groups: The darfellans are a race of refugees; no remaining power groups exist among them. Many darfellans have retreated to their sea caves, where they live hidden away from the sahuagin and other dangers. Others roam the seas in small hunting bands, looking for sahuagin to slay. Either way, the darfellans are organized like a tribe, with a single chieftain or shaman making all the important decisions.

Darfellans believe that tribal organization will continue until a darfellan known in prophecies as the Deep Dweller emerges to restore the race to vitality. His or her appearance would immediately draw the allegiance of darfellans gathering from far and near, because the remaining darfellans regard tales of the Deep Dweller with messianic fervor.

Beliefs: Darfellans tend to worship one of the gods of the sea -- if they haven't turned their backs on religion entirely. Many darfellans feel that their prayers and supplications went unanswered during the sahuagin's genocidal attacks, so they believe that the gods themselves have spurned the darfellan race.

Relations: Tribes of darfellans like to keep themselves hidden, but sometimes a darfellan community will develop a trading or mutual defense relationship with nearby merfolk, coastal humans, or aquatic elves. But such relationships rarely blossom into outright friendship because of secrecy on the darfellans' part; they tend to be businesslike arrangements where the two races remain at arm's length.

Darfellan Adventures

Sahuagin figure prominently in darfellan adventures, of course. But any adventure that involves exploring the deep should be interesting to the player of a darfellan PC.

  • A darfellan hunting party has been captured by landbased slavers who intend to march them far from the ocean. The PCs must defeat the slavers, rescue the darfellans, and figure out why the slavers wanted darfellans in the first place.

  • In the tradition of movies like The Seven Samurai, a beleaguered tribe of darfellans hires the characters to defend their village against a coming sahuagin raid.

  • A group of darfellan explorers is searching for an undersea cave network that legends say leads to the extraplanar shores of Oceanus -- a possible new homeland where the surviving darfellans can flourish and rebuild their race.

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