Friday, October 30, 2015

Saurians of Eska

I wanted to have lizardfolk as a playable race for Eska, but I wanted them to be different.  I toyed with the idea of asabi or firenewts, but none of them really clicked.  Then I was going through Dragon Magazine #103 and there it was...towards the back, in the Ares section, the Saurians, for Star Frontiers, by Jeffrey Bouley.  I'd only ever played a few sessions of Star Frontiers back in the day, but I do remember adding these guys into my playable options.

The article in Dragon listed four subraces, but I didn't see enough mechanical differences to support all four, so I chose two, the Kavak and the Talsoi.

The saurians are one of the original races of Eska. For a time they lived in peace, enjoying profitable trade with nearby humans. Soon, however, the orcs became aware of the saurians and regarded them as both a threat and a challenge to be overcome.

The orcs descended in waves on the unsuspecting saurians, destroying whole populations in the process. The saurians, unused to full-scale war, fought bravely against the orcs, but to no avail. With their defenses decimated and racial destruction imminent, the saurian clan leaders retreated into the coastal swamps scattered around Eska.  

Society and Customs

Saurian have large, extended families. Because their young develop so rapidly (reaching adult size in five years), "nuclear families" would be short-lived. Education and socialization of the young are handled within each clan, or svik, which may consist of hundreds of individuals living within the same general area. Saurians are interfertile despite their racial types, and a svik may have members of all four races within it. Svika may compete with each other over business or personal matters, but violent crime among them is almost unknown; they are too aware of their own near extinction as a race from the orc’s attacks.

Saurians are extremely touchy about comments regarding them as a species. Any insult against a single saurian is easily taken as a slur against the race as a whole, even if the Saurian in question belongs to another svik. Saurians tend to be overprotective of their fellow clan members, even as they recognize the importance of standing on one's own two feet. This causes such stress for them that they will not willingly discuss it with someone of another species.
Saurians are something of a paradox to other races, as they are both gentle and kind as well as vengeful and brutal. Among friends and their svik, a saurian is pleasant, cheerful, and absolutely loyal. But in the presence of a hated enemy, a saurian's rage and fury can be frightening (although saurians do not receive any bonuses for rage in combat). A wrong done to a saurian will not be forgotten by any of them, and making amends can be difficult (or impossible, depending on the offense). Should the offending party make an appropriate apology, the saurians will grudgingly accept it and continue with the business at hand though forgetting about the incident will take months or years.

The horrifying losses that they took in their war with the orcs have made Saurians a militant race. They tend to purchase large quantities of arms, and groups of them have expressed interests in creating their own military force.

They have a natural affinity with large reptiles, often using ankylosaurus, triceratops and stegosaurus as mounts and beasts of burden.

Saurian Names

Saurians have from three to four names. The first two are the common and svik names, comparable to a first and last name. If the Saurian performs an important deed, he or she may receive an honorific to signify this accomplishment. The most important of all names, however, is the tarish satimu ("sacred name"). According to saurian religious beliefs, the tarish satimu is a part of the owner's very soul. Only the individual saurian and his svik will ever know the Saurian's sacred name.  Should someone somehow discover a Saurian's tarish satimu, it is considered an insult of the most terrible kind, and the Saurian will try to regain his honor through a duel of some sort, often to the death.


Saurians are respectful of the other races, but they particularly enjoy and are fascinated by elves. They respect dwarves for their drive, but find it hard to make friends with them; the dwarves are too unstable. Saurians find Humans fairly easy to get along with.

Huan’apan are another matter. Though huan’apan and saurians are alike in certain social, political, and family matters, the saurians find the former to be rude, insulting, and pushy. Fights between individuals of the two races have tended to turn into widespread brawls as clan members from either side are drawn into the conflict, and even in the short time that huan’apan have been in on Eska, several remarkable feuds have developed. When it happens that a huan’apan and a saurian become friends, however, they become friends for life.

Saurians dislike hobgoblins greatly, because of the latter's similarity to orcs and goblins business practices. Hobgoblins dislike saurians in turn. Other races are generally friendly toward the saurians, despite their touchiness, but some humans are slightly nervous around saurians, particularly if they have an aversion to reptiles. This reaction is fortunately rare.

Warm Blooded Reptilians

Saurians are bipedal reptilian humanoids that stand between 6 and a half and seven feet tall. Each of them has two hands, each with three fingers and an opposable thumb. Each foot has four toes; feet, as well as hand, are webbed. Saurians have small scales, as per their reptilian ancestors, but they are warm-blooded as mammals are. Saurians are omnivorous and have rather flat teeth.


Being semi-aquatic creatures, Saurian feel at home both above and below water. As part of their aquatic adaptations, Saurians have a gill slit on each side of their throats which filter oxygen, out of fresh and salt water. Saurians also possess underwater vision of exceptional quality.

Saurian Traits

Ability Score Increase.
Your Strength score increases by 2.

Saurians mature faster than humans, reaching adulthood at 5 years of age. They also have shorter lifespans, with few saurians living longer than 60 years.

Saurians stress two beliefs above all others in their society: individuality and the freedom of choice. Saurians detest dictatorships and prefer very loosely structured governments, having an uncaring attitude for authority, though they will obey it if convinced it is for the common good. They believe in self reliance.  Most saurians are chaotic good.

Saurians are bipedal reptilian humanoids that stand between six and a half and seven feet tall.  They can weigh anywhere from 200 to 250 pounds.  Your size is medium.

Your base walking speed is 30 feet. You have a swim speed of 30 feet.

Keen Senses.
Saurians have a slightly more acute sense of vision than humans and, as noted before, can see well underwater. Saurians do have a more acute sense of smell than humans.

You gain proficiency with Perception checks.
You are able to breath both air and water.

Natural Weapons.
Saurians still have certain physical defenses inherited from their prehistoric ancestors. One of these is the set of claws on fingers and toes. Although these claws have degenerated, they can still be used to some effect.

When you use your claws for an unarmed strike, you can cause either slashing or bludgeoning damage.

Saurians are able to speak in the same manner as Humans.  Saurians tend to lisp, and speak with hissing voices. When angered, Saurians hiss loudly and bare their teeth.

You speak, read and write Draconic, plus one additional language of your choice (typically Common).

Saurian Sub-Races

The Saurians evolved from a highly adaptive creature that were known as land dragons. This creature was found in a variety of habitats on Eska and developed into the two known races of Saurians: the Kavak and the Talsoi.

These saurians have green scales, a long tail, and a short, curved horn protruding from the top of their skulls. The horn varies in color from one saurian to another, from white to green; it is light-colored at birth and darkens gradually as the saurian grows older.  

The kavak are more numerous, and are mostly the warriors and hunters of the svik.

The kavak evolved from a grasslands dwelling dragon that used the horn for defense and the green coloration for camouflage (allowing them to approach prey more easily).

Ability Score Increase

Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Natural Weapon

Your horn can be used as a weapon, causing 1d10 piercing damage.


Your coloration gives you Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

A Talsoi has beige to dark brown scales, a heavy tail, and a horny ridge running from its extended snout to the tip of the tail. They developed from the forest and plains-dwelling land dragons. Talsoi enjoy freshwater rivers, seas, and lakes.

The talsoi are less common than the kavak, and usually fulfil the roles of druids, priests, and advisors, as well as the most successful traders and business leaders.

Ability Score Increase

Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Natural Weapon

Your tail can be used as a weapon, causing 1d10 bludgeoning damage.

Mental Resistance.

Because of their nervous structure, talsoi have a pronounced resistance to enchantments, charms, or mind control of any kind.  You have Advantage on Saving Throws against these types of magic.  

You also gain Proficiency in Insight.

Just wanted to add that pdf files of this and all future posts will be available to my patrons on Patreon!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hobgoblins of Eska (Nuin'ohtar or Muukuukek)

Quite a long time since my last post.  A dead computer, and some writer's block were the main culprits.  The change from summer to fall brought plenty of outdoor chores around the house to distract me as well.  Also, I think I overwhelmed myself into blogs, message boards and the like and just needed to step away.

I've struggled with the writing of the goblin entry, which I planned to be next, but only got about halfway through before I realized changing gears was needed, so I bring you the hobgoblins of Eska.

The vast majority of the racial write up was lifted from a pdf I had downloaded a while back that I really like, by Andrew Ferris.  Thanks Andrew!

Hobgoblins of Eska

The hobgoblins of Eska are not a natural race.  The mith'edhel, desperate for an equalizer against the mori'edhel in the Kinslayer Wars had turned to their wizards to augment their forces.  Among the many creatures they created or summoned, the nuin'ohtar (low warriors) were the gray elves' biggest success.

The goblins had been the servants of the gray elves since the Orqu'ohta, the Orc Wars. They used their wizardry to warp and transform select goblin young and added size, muscle and intelligence.  They are raised not in families, but in military troops, learning the art of war and battle.  Armed with shocklances, they are the most efficient, ruthless fighting force of Eska.

While the gray elves call them nuin'ohtar, amongst themselves they prefer the goblin word muukuukek.  The nuin'ohtar are sexless, being neither male or female, and they can't breed.  The mith'edhel did this on purpose.  The nuin'ohtar have an amazing survival instinct, and great pride in their race.  They know the only way their race survives is by the magic of the elves, so their loyalty is almost certainly guaranteed.

Dwarves – Though they are tough, Dwarves lives are focused entirely upon unhealthy obsessions. They drive themselves mad obsessing over their clan’s losses and let their anger consume them entirely. Others are obsessed with collecting material things that do nothing to better themselves or their lives for the sole purpose of collecting them and displaying them. Dwarves make good miners and craftsmen, they simply need someone to take control of them and direct them properly.

Humans – There is a lot of potential here, if only they weren’t so small and lazy. Though you’ll find plenty of exceptions, most humans just don’t have the discipline and focus it takes to perform their duties properly.  When it comes to battle, far too many will flee or simply stand around and scream. They fail to prepare many of their own for war and get offended when they fall in battle. The best use for humans is as a buffer between ourselves and the many even less tolerable peoples.

Gnomes - Frivolous little beasts. Humor has its place, but they put it in too many places. Some of their creations are useful, though.

Gray Elves - Hobgoblins call the mith'edhel the shaakhuur, or the creators. They are recognized as the top of the chain of command, and their great magic is feared. Deep down they harbor distrust and animosity to them, though.

Wood Elves and huan’apan - The forest elves and their dog men make good skirmishers, but lack the ability to stand up to a real fight. Still, their general alliance with the shaakhuur is to be respected.

Dark Elves - They fight well against great odds and have earned grudging respect.

Saurians - Undisciplined fighters, but the masters of ambush. The elves think that they are close to the land, but the lizardfolk are part of it.

Warforged - Like the hobgoblins, a race built for war. They don't understand the warforged quest for "humanity".

Hobgoblins are a race of discipline, pride and dominance. Tall, physically domineering and coldly calculating, they seek to bring it to order under them, strangling out that which they deem to be frivolous and soft.  They are masters of the art of war, erecting imposing fortresses across the world and rallying the most fearsome armies to impose themselves upon all others. There are few places that are safe from their advance for long and every bastion of life sooner or later is threatened by their influence.

Tall and Imposing

Hobgoblins have a dangerous look about them. Their features are often reminiscent of more primitive and threatening beasts, often compared to wolves, tigers, or gorillas. They move with the deadly precision of an apex predator. With most standing anywhere between six to seven feet tall, they literally look down upon other races as weak and lacking. They are naturally quite athletic, though some are thin and wiry while others are large and powerful with an average weight around 225 pounds. Their society forges every member into their finest form.

Hobgoblins have universally jet black or dark reddish brown hair. They generally have thick hair both on their heads and their bodies, particularly in their youth. Their eye colors are often brown usually ranging from black to red to yellow. Their skin tones come in shades of red, orange, yellow or gray. They usually dress in a conservative manner and seem always ready for battle, often favoring simple black or other dark colors. They keep their armor and weapons clean, but not shined.  Some add some small splashes of bright, vibrant color contrasting their dark clothing with blood red being a favorite. Tattoos and piercing are common among them as many like to use them to display their tolerance for pain.

For Glory or Honor!

Hobgoblins can have an off‐putting narrow and focused view upon the world. Though they age and mature at the same rate as humans, it is unusual for them to have anywhere near the breadth of experience nor the depth of knowledge nor the refinement of skills that humans have. Instead they focus themselves on being perfect physical specimens and carrying out their duties without flaw or failure. Even those who fulfill mainly non‐combative roles in their societies carrying out the same combat drills and practices as the soldiers, everyone prepared to charge into battle and give their lives for the cause.

Hobgoblin society is far more mobile than it may appear to outsiders. Although being promoted to the elite within the society is a big advantage, a series of failures can cause any officer to find themselves tossed onto the frontline as expendable.  Those who find success in battle, fulfill their role and serve the troop with the most success, honor and pride can find themselves quickly advancing through the ranks. Few hobgoblins engage in treacherous acts to advance through the ranks, though those that do fall within the rules.

For all their cold fierceness and brutality, they have many noble traits not found among other unenlightened races. They are good to their word, quick to confront others directly with sincerity and honesty.  They do not give up in the face of impossible circumstances and are quick to discourage those who would. They are fiercely loyal, continuing to serve their mission even when all seems lost and their companions fallen. And despite their fearsome appearances, others are often taken aback by just how intelligent and well‐spoken they can be once they choose to express themselves through words rather than action. All this makes them truly frightening opponents.

Warring Fiefdoms

Hobgoblin lands are often organized in very simple, but efficient ways. They dominate others and then use them as slave labor to build up their fiefdoms.  Although their lands may in some ways superficially resemble those of humans, they often lack the artistic refinement and high use of skill seen in human settlements. Instead they use the simplest effective architecture styles.

Hobgoblin society is heavily militarized. Every last one is considered to be part of the warlord’s army.  Even if one’s primary role is that of a fisherman or smith, they trained up as a soldier as part of their basic primary education. Even as children they know more about warfare and violence than most know all their lives.  Despite the brutal discipline of their societies, or perhaps because of it, it is not the least bit uncommon to find hobgoblins outside of their own lands. They invariably take up jobs that involve enacting violence, whether as mercenaries, bounty hunters, bodyguards, bouncers or enforcers, they are valued for their unique blend of being both loyal and honorable while being cruel and efficient.

To Battle!

Hobgoblins who take up the life of adventuring are virtually never in it to help anyone. They are often hardly interested in the gold except perhaps as a means for how it could help them expand their power and influence in the world. Instead, they are often seeking to challenge themselves, to accomplish great feats to expand their prestige or perhaps simply to have a purpose, a mission to accomplish. They often have the long‐term goal of creating their own troop or to earn an invitation to a place of prestige within a powerful one.  Although a hobgoblin adventurer may seek to dominate, control and discipline his companions, they often have little inspiration to seek out an adventure on their own and instead usually sign on to an inspired person’s mission as a mercenary.

Dominating and Calculating

Given the strict standards that hobgoblins set for themselves, it cannot be at all surprising that they look upon all other races as failing those standards. The attitude of a hobgoblin is often arrogant and dismissive.  Other races have a long way to go before earning the respect of a hobgoblin, and if they don’t then they can expect to be constantly berated for their failures.

Hobgoblin Names

Hobgoblin personal names usually consist of two or three Goblin words, although they often go by nicknames as their names tend to be very long and very difficult for any other race to pronounce. One of these words is always taken from one of their commander’s names.  Hobgoblins also use the name of the troop they were born into, even if that troop has been disbanded or destroyed.

Hobgoblin Names: Bolddengkara, Chaotetsu, Daeweimichi, Etsuqingou, Hanfutetsu, Haruhanxiong, Haruilfuu, Heeyamachuu, Hyokshiroumu, Jargaalshunwa, Jinyeontae, Juanchengken, Kiyoazu, Kongkyunghide, Monkhbakuizu, Morisukexu, Namzhongsaki, Nerkimijoo, Nerlibayar, Norisaki, Okikyung, Pingumito, Satoyasu, Sumiwangming, Totoxie, Tulgasora, Zhushirougo

Troop Names: Barynchi, Chonojougi, Gangjianhe, Hadzukichumo, Hwajaeyalach, Kyoren, Luukiba, Sekiuzmerch, Shanmongsangga, Ukeldun, Xiannuanchin, Yemusatsu


Your hobgoblin character has a number of traits that are a direct result of is superior stock and its rigorous training.

Ability Score Adjustments: Your Strength score is increased by 1 and your Constitution Score is increased by 2.

Age: Hobgoblins age at roughly the same rate as humans. They reach full maturity around the age of 16 and are usually considered to be full adults then.  Because of their violent and aggressive lives, they usually die in battle once their bodies begin failing them.

Alignment: Most hobgoblins are extremely disciplined and honorable, seeking to enforce the order with which they live their lives onto the world making them strictly Lawful.

Size: Hobgoblins generally stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and average around 225 pounds. Your size is Medium

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Dark Vision: You are descended from predatory ancestors with keen night vision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were in bright light and in darkness as if it were in tim light. You can't discern colors in darkness, only shades of black and white.

Natural Athlete: You gain proficiency in the Athletics skill.

Martial Training: You have proficiency with the spear and longbow, and with medium armor.

Immense Stamina: When you spend a hit die during a rest, you may reroll any 1s or 2s and must use the new result.

Always Prepared: You add your proficiency bonus to your Initiative checks.

Languages: You can speak, read and write Common and Goblin. Hobgoblins speak Goblin, although their dialect is considerably different from their smaller cousins. They insist on using an ancient pictographic script with over 2000 characters and rare is the hobgoblin who knows them all. This means hobgoblins often need scribes to read and write their messages for them.

Shocklance (Ma'tok): Lightning springs from this spear and delivers a shock to a creature you try to touch. You have advantage on the attack roll if the target is wearing armor made of metal. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 lightning damage, and it can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn.