It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Fish-men…
Never let it be said I’m not incredibly lazy. (Reply from the peanut gallery:"Trust us, it was never said, and never will be.") Having just finished my introduction, and posted it so I can’t back out, I have to now come up with something Cthulhoid, and to keep my earlier promises, it has to be for FantasyCraft. Well, with the jaunty tune which gives this post its title still ringing in my ears, I figure "Why not?". Time to stat up some wee scaly beasties for FC!
There are things older than we can know or understand. Even the so-called elder races — the elves and the drakes — do not have memories which reach back to the earliest times, the times before the gods we know were shaped, the time when the land itself took a different form. Things still lived in those dim days, lived and bred and dreamed, built great cities and vast empires, and ultimately fell and faded to the point where not even an echo of them remains.
Well…. perhaps an echo.
The full extent of those forgotten ones may never be known, but they did leave some dim legacies. Moving in cycles so long and slow that the rise and fall of nations happens in a flickering, the slumbering spawn of the first beings to walk the world sometimes emerges, and it leaves behind traces of itself, fragments which can manifest in horrific ways.
Those tainted by the ancient dwellers in the hadean depths can respond in two ways… they can seek out others of their ilk, to form small and hidden communities and listen to the commands from the eldermost past which resonate in their blood, or they can recognize the foulness that seeks to return once more to the sunlit world and struggle to beat it back. We present some examples of each, after the break!
The Thing In The Mirror
It’s bad enough if you discover your father was a thief, or your mother was a necromancer. It’s something altogether different to find out one of your ancestors was a slimy creature from the deepest parts of the sea, emerging from the depths of the ocean and the depths of time to breed with the warm-blooded usurpers of the world. Such a discovery may create in one a desire to fight back, to prove that a taint in the blood is a not a taint in the soul. For those who follow this path, we offer some feats…
Your ancestors did things… horrible, terrible, unspeakable things.. and you bear the mark of their shame.
Prerequisite: Human, No other Heritage feats.
Benefit: The lower of your Strength or Constitution scores rises by two, and your Charisma and Wisdom drop by one each. You gain Aquatic I, Darkvision I, Superior Swimmer, and Thick Hide 4. You also gain Repulsive I.
Design Notes: The list of benefits — especially the very high Thick Hide — may seem extreme, but Aquatic and Superior Swimmer will come into play fairly rarely, and the Repulsive trait amplifies the Charisma penalty. Our fishman will need that thick hide, since he won’t have a lot of friends. You might also note this feat does not have the Level 1 only prerequisite. That was deliberate — I wanted to embody the idea you may find out the terrible truth of your ancestry at any point.
You have begun to embrace your true past…. or perhaps it has embraced you.
Prerequisite: Squamous Heritage
Benefit: Your Strength or Constitution rises by 1. (Your choice). You gain Aquatic II. You also gain some natural attacks — a Grade I bite and Grade II claws. Your Repulsive trait increases to Grade II, and you suffer a -5 to Blend checks. For purposes of Disguise, you are considered to only be "similar" to humans. Lastly, you radiate Dread (p. 233)
Design Notes: Not 100% sure about this. I am tempted to either grant a +2 to one stat or a +1 to both.
The Tainted Townsfolk
There are isolated places in the world. Lonely fishing villages dot the coasts, their insular and inbred populations knowing and caring little for the outside world. Such places are odd and unfriendly even at the best of times, but some are more unique, harboring a dark secret…
Tainted Townsfolk, also called Half-Fish, Batrachians, or Gillmen, are the product of constant invasion by the ocean spawn combined with constant inbreeding to reinforce the tainted traits. The exact degree to which any particular foulness manifests in an individual is seemingly random. Some seem almost perfectly human; others are hideous monsters. The easiest way to handle this is with a series of rogue templates, allowing you to easily create everything from a near-human laborer to an ocean-blooded devotee.
Near-Human (4 XP)
The NPC is mostly human in appearance, with just a few hints of his alien ancestry. The lower of his Strength or Constitution increases by 2, he gains aquatic I and superior swimmer I, and nocturnal.
Half-Blood (6 XP)
The NPC is clearly something inhuman, but he can still pass in a dim light. He likely has bulging eyes, slimy skin, and gill slits below the neck. The lower of his Strength or Constitution increases by 2, he gains aquatic II and superior swimmer IV, and nocturnal. In addition, he gains a Grade II claw attack.
The NPC is barely human anymore — he may have a few oddly out of place human traits, such as a shock of hair, an arm which is free of slimy scales, or a perfectly normal pair of eyes, but otherwise, he is a lumbering, slimy, fish-man. His Strength and Constitution increase by 2 each, he gains aquatic II and superior swimming VI, nocturnal, and damage reduction III. Lastly, he has a Grade II claw attack and a Grade II bite.
OGL Declaration after the break!
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Open Game License v1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Rules Document Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
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"It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Fishmen" from http://www.mrlizard.com Copyright 2009; Author Lizard