Raptorans are unique among the common races for their ability to fly. In ancient times, the raptorans made a pact with the lords of the Elemental Plane of Air, gaining the ability to fly in exchange for pledging the finest warriors of their race to the service of the air elementals in various extraplanar battles. Although the elementals have not called upon the raptorans for assistance in generations, the pact entered into by those distant ancestors continues to shape raptoran society today.
To ensure that only the fittest and most capable raptorans are available to fill the ranks of these would-be warriors, the agreement with the elementals called for the raptorans to put their offspring through a test of survival and self-reliance called the Walk of the Four Winds. To this day, every member of a raptoran flock must undergo this trial before becoming able to fly. When the flock chief judges a young adult raptoran to be ready for the walk, that raptoran can leave immediately to start the test. Those who do not leave at their earliest opportunity are referred to by other members of the community as "gliders" (reflecting their limited capacity to use their wings).
The pact led to the creation of the skypledged, who draw their ranks from raptoran druids and clerics. By vowing to forgo earth, fire, and water spells, skypledged gain great flexibility in spellcasting as well as ever-increasing power over the wind. Skypledged are not structured in a single great organization but scattered among the tribes, each honoring the pact as he or she sees best. (The skypledged prestige class is described starting on page 126.) The pact also set out details regarding the creation of the stormtalons, the organization of elite raptoran soldiers who assist raptoran flocks that find themselves in danger. (The stormtalon prestige class is described starting on page 131.)
Personality: Raptorans have a reputation for being deep thinkers who always weigh their options carefully. They're notorious for treating strangers coolly, yet they're also slow to judge and usually give newcomers ample time to prove themselves worthy of friendship. They are slow to anger but even slower to forgive an insult or injury.
When faced with uncertainty, raptorans usually retreat to a safe distance and settle down to observe and ponder the situation for a while. Their detractors dismiss this behavior as cowardly or indecisive, yet raptorans are perfectly capable of improvising when the need arises, and they generally stick to a task once they have decided how to take it on. Raptorans seldom flee from danger; they just back off a little.
Raptorans love to argue and debate, whether or not they actually agree with the philosophy they are defending so passionately. They do not, however, waste time arguing when danger threatens or when they perceive that time is of the essence.
A raptoran's cautious nature takes a back seat whenever physical violence is imminent. In the blink of an eye, a raptoran's demeanor can change from serene to fierce. In combat, raptorans attack their enemies with savage aggressiveness, seeking overwhelming victory as quickly as possible.
Physical Description: Feathered wings are a raptoran's singular identifying feature. When fully outstretched, they span 10 to 12 feet, although raptorans (when not flying) are more comfortable with them folded behind their backs. An interlocking series of ligaments allows raptorans to lock their wings in the outstretched position, enabling them to glide for long periods without tiring. The wing feathers are ordinarily white, with black-tipped feathers appearing more often as a raptoran ages. Raptorans tend to be thinner and slightly taller than humans, with most of their extra height in their legs; their arms are likewise somewhat longer. They average just over 6 feet tall and weigh around 150 pounds. Their legs end in bony talons that aren't particularly sharp but have tremendous gripping strength. Raptoran hands are much like human hands, but each finger ends in a thick, almost clawlike fingernail. The race does not have facial hair, but downy feathers on a raptoran's scalp can resemble hair when viewed at a distance. Some female raptorans have a row of more substantial feathers running from earlobe to earlobe across the back of the head and neck. Females can fan out this neck ruff to display it; male raptorans consider a well groomed neck ruff to be attractive.
Raptoran clothing tends to be utilitarian and streamlined. Garb that's heavy, restrictive, or too loose would impede flight, so most raptorans rely on a close-fitting shirt and a simple set of breeches. Because a raptoran's feathered wings provide better insulation than a down quilt, lightly dressed raptorans are comfortable even in cold climes. Raptoran clothing includes straps and buckles for keeping pockets closed, because raptorans in flight would otherwise drop coins and other possessions. Dangling jewelry is disdained as an annoyance in flight. Raptorans sometimes dye individual wing feathers in arresting combinations -- a decorative art not unlike the cosmetics that some humans wear.
Relations: Strangers who meet raptorans usually receive cordial but wary treatment. To a raptoran, any unfamiliar being is potentially an ally or an enemy, and she keeps her distance until she can be sure of a newcomer's intentions. Other creatures often consider raptorans to be aloof and somewhat snobbish toward creatures that cannot fly. The truth of the matter is that while raptorans literally look down on land-bound creatures, that situation is more a matter of circumstance than of arrogance. Raptorans instinctively pity creatures that can't soar on the winds, but they're introspective enough to realize that not everyone shares the desire to fly.
As hunters and ranchers on the edge of civilization, raptorans tend to be territorial. They tolerate travelers who are just passing through their territories, but they expect visitors to ask permission before hunting or harvesting forest plants in the area. Those who tarry overlong in raptoran territory -- and those who settle too close for raptoran comfort -- face increasing harassment from, and eventual war with, the raptorans.
Raptorans tend to be tolerant of other folk who come to visit and not to stay. They often barter with gnomes and halflings, trading game, furs, and other products for metal goods, cloth, and salt. Raptorans regard most sylvan fey creatures as charming but somewhat frivolous. Raptorans are no fools, and they treat kobolds, goblins, orcs, and other warlike creatures with extra caution. They find dwarves somewhat odd, even comical to look at because of their stout bodies and long beards. They also think of dwarves as strange folk because of their habit of living underground.
Alignment: Raptorans love their freedom and tend strongly toward chaotic alignments. Their tribal structure and small communities reflect their individualism. Raptorans also favor good over evil. They dislike excess and never seek to dominate others or own more than they need. They stand ready to give a helping hand to others in need, as long as such help doesn't entangle them in the affairs of far-off lands.
Raptoran Lands: A typical raptoran community lives either in spiraling towers built in a hollow or depression halfway up a canyon cliff, or in large communal dwellings excavated into the side of a cliff. Cliffs with overhangs and southern exposures are particularly comfortable for raptorans. If a canyon has a prevailing breeze that blows through it, raptorans regard that location as a particularly auspicious place to live.
While raptorans do engage in some agriculture (mostly fruit orchards), they subsist on hunting whatever herd animals are prevalent near their cliff dwellings. Thus, they usually live far from large settlements of other races, in areas where game is plentiful and the hunting is good. Some raptoran flocks tend herds of bison, deer, or elk near their communities, taking some of the livestock each season for food.
Religion: The goddess Tuilviel Glithien, the Queen of Air and Night, is the raptorans' primary deity. The raptorans call her Lady of the Silent Wings or simply The Lady. Tuilviel cherishes and protects all nocturnal birds. She is the patron of the hunt and of the family. Because many raptorans are druids, generalized nature worship is common among members of the race. Some raptorans, especially arcane spellcasters, venerate powerful elementals from the Elemental Plane of Air.
Language: Raptorans speak a fluid and lyrical tongue they call Tuilvilanuue. Ultimately derived from Elven but quite distinct in its development, Tuilvilanuue has many long, tongue-twisting words but simple grammar, relying on inflection to convey much of its meaning. Written Tuilvilanuue uses a simple form of the Elven script.
Most raptorans have a practical mind-set, so they confine their writing to messages. Many raptoran songs, poems, and histories exist, but the raptorans prefer memorizing these to writing them down. "Memories are lighter to carry than books," a raptoran saying goes.
Names: A raptoran child receives a birth name from her parents, which serves to identify the child as she grows up. Sometime after the child reaches adolescence she acquires a nickname -- occasionally from a flock elder but often a sobriquet that just seems to stick. As a matter of practice, only members of a raptoran's flock may refer to her by her nickname, and even then they only do so when no strangers are present. Close friends and family members often continue to use a raptoran's birth name as a mark of affection.
A raptoran may reveal her flock nickname to someone outside the flock if she wishes, but no one else may do so. Sharing one's flock nickname with an outsider is a mark of deep respect, trust, or affection.
When a raptoran gains the ability to fly under her own power, she chooses an adult name for herself. In addition, a raptoran has a family name, which is often a compound of several descriptive Tuilvilanuue words.
Raptoran Racial Traits
Raptoran base land speed is 30 feet.
Medium: As Medium creatures, raptorans have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Wing-Aided Movement: Raptorans can use their wings to help with movement even if they can't fly yet. The extra lift from her wings gives a raptoran a +10 racial bonus on Jump checks.
Gliding (Ex): A raptoran can use her wings to glide, negating damage from a fall of any height and allowing 20 feet of forward travel for every 5 feet of descent. Raptorans glide at a speed of 40 feet (average maneuverability). Even if a raptoran's maneuverability improves, she can't hover while gliding. A raptoran can't glide while carrying a medium or heavy load. If a raptoran becomes unconscious or helpless while in midair, her wings naturally unfurl and powerful ligaments stiffen the wings. The raptoran descends in a tight corkscrew and takes only 1d6 points of falling damage, no matter what the actual distance of the fall.
Flight (Ex): When a raptoran reaches 5 Hit Dice, she becomes able to fly at a speed of 40 feet (average maneuverability). A raptoran can't fly while carrying a medium or heavy load or while fatigued or exhausted. Raptorans can safely fly for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1 round). They can exert themselves to fly for up to twice as long, but then they're fatigued at the end of the flight. Raptorans are likewise fatigued after spending a total of more than 10 minutes per day flying. Because raptorans can glide before, after, and between rounds of actual flight, they can remain aloft for extended periods (even if they can only use flight for 1 round at a time without becoming fatigued).
When they reach 10 Hit Dice, raptorans have enough stamina and prowess to fly for longer periods. They can fly at a speed of 40 feet (average maneuverability), and flying requires no more exertion than walking or running. A raptoran with flight can make a dive attack. A dive attack works like a charge, but the raptoran must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. A raptoran can make a dive attack only when wielding a piercing weapon; if the attack hits, it deals double damage. A raptoran with flight can use the run action while flying, provided she flies in a straight line.
Pact with Wind Lords: Because of the ancient bargain raptorans made with powerful air elementals, raptoran spellcasters cast spells with the air descriptor at +1 caster level.
Unerring Direction: Raptorans have an instinctive sense of which direction is north, even when they are underground or otherwise unable to see the sky or other visual cues. Beyond the Material Plane, this ability doesn't function.
Low-Light Vision: A raptoran can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. A raptoran retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
Weapon Familiarity: Raptorans treat the footbow as a martial weapon rather than as an exotic weapon.
+2 racial bonus on Climb and Spot checks. Raptorans have strong grips with both hands and feet, and their eyes are unusually keen.
Automatic Languages: Common and Tuilvilanuue.
Bonus Languages: Draconic, Elven, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan.
Favored Class: Cleric. A multiclass raptoran's cleric class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty.