Races of the Twilight Isles – the Hann Beastmasters

The ghost of Barbara Radziwiłł.

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   Here we have the mechanical details for one of the less-known races for the Twilight Isles setting. Like the four major races, the Hann are very powerful for a mere +1 ECL race – a consequence of using one or more (rather cheesy) design tricks to enhance each.

   There are several reasons for doing that. For this particular setting I wanted “race” to be a major choice, with a large – and ongoing – impact on the characters abilities. I wanted the races to be able to survive in a setting which is extremely dangerous and which only offers a very limited amount of living space – factors that would (and, indeed, did) drive the usual races into extinction in short order. I wanted players to opt for the basic races I was providing – and their integration with the setting – rather than having them wanting to bring in races which did not belong in the Twilight Isles. Finally, I opted to forestall the usual player search (and there’s always at least one) for the most powerful possible combination of race and/or template which they could put together; these races are already about as powerful as can be managed for +0 and +1 ECL races.

   The Hann Beastmasters occupy a few tiny islands too small and isolated to support colonies of the major races. They’re also relatively recent arrivals; refugees from the Dark Lands beneath the Cinghalum who found a way through the maze of cracks and packages in the bedrock of those lands to reach the more welcoming Twilight Seas.

   They are, however, one of the Dark Lands most durable survivor species, and one of the few that thrives unprotected in the Dark Lands. Their ancestors were originally dwellers in shallow pit-houses before the great cataclysm – and hence afterwards they were caught in the narrow interface between the seething negative energies of the Cinghalum and the raging positive energies of the great wards embedded in the bedrock of the Dark Lands.

   Most died – but the ancestors of the Hann had always been opportunistic survivors.

   A few adapted, gaining the ability to metabolize both positive and negative energies, standing between the worlds of the living and the dead. Passing that ability on to their descendants, they became the ancestors of the current Hann.

   Physically, the Hann are a small folk, about three feet tall and usually weighing less than forty pounds. They’re wiry and dark, and remind most other folk of children – in fact, in lands where they aren’t widely known, wandering Hann occasionally give rise to tales of feral children who never grow up.

   Most Hann are tribal; informal, intensively loyal to their companions, uncomfortable in larger groups, mistrustful of outsiders, and – by the standards of more civilized races – barbaric. Like most tribal peoples, they have relatively little interest in matters beyond their own borders and even the kindest of them can be – quite casually – ruthlessly cruel to outsiders. They’re also noted for their use of poisons, stealth, and ruthless tendencies. Soft civilized folk do not long survive beneath the unlight of the Cinghalum.

   Their language is known as Vorr, and is a shamanistic tongue that assigns living qualities – motivation, gender, spritual aspects, and clan relationships – to any item under discussion, making “objective” discussions rather difficult. It’s “written” form consists of a hundred or so pictograms which can be used to mark trails, water sources, natural dangers, or territories, and to record simple messages. Those who speak Vorr, and observe the myriad small rituals and tokens of respect that it requires, can sometimes obtain small favors from the local nature spirits

   Hann Racial Modifiers:

  • +2 Dexterity (6 CP).
  • Use of Charms and Talismans: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive (and thus are limited by wealth and lifestyle) and take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Most Hann Charms and Talismans are natural tokens which draw their power from the spirits of nature, rather than the ambient magic-focusing devices usually found with the other races – but their effects are quite identical.
  • Use of Relics: Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for Increased Effect (6 CP).
  • Shrinking I (Corrupted: Reduces base movement to 20′, 8 CP)
  • +2 Warcraft (BAB). Specialized in Ranged Combat, Corrupted: Thrown Weapons, Blowpipes, and Slings only (4 CP)
  • Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect (+3 SP/Level)/only for “thieving” skills (6 CP).
  • Adept, Corrupted for Increased Effect/these skills must be kept maximized: Climb, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, and Survival (6 CP).
  • +2 Racial Bonus on all six Adept skills (6 CP).
  • Cloaking: A Hann’s natural magic and life force is undetectable unless he or she opts to appear as either living or undead. A Hann can easily mingle with creatures of either type (6 CP).
  • Shapeshift with Shape of Death, Specialized and Corrupted/only allows the Hann to take on the general traits of the undead type rather than the powers of any specific type of undead, and even those traits may only be taken on for a limited time; the Hann must periodically return to true life to truly heal and to rebuild their reserves of life energy. They can thus greatly extend their lives – and reduce their tribes need for food and drink (by a fact of five or so), but cannot achieve the semi-immortality of the truly undead (4 CP).
  • Returning. Unless a Hann’s spirit is ritually sent on to the afterlife, or they have exhausted their extended lifespans, their bodies must be utterly destroyed by fire to prevent them from returning as a quasi-undead – and, from there, returning to life as soon as they’re supplied with a little life energy to respark their bodies processes (6 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP).
  • Companion (12 CP). The Hann can bond with a variety of creatures. The usual options here include:
    • Beastmasters: This is the most common option. These Hann acquire an Animal Companion with either Might or a +2 ECL template (12 CP).
    • Subsumption: Acquiring spirit-familiars by killing creatures and binding their spirits to you is NOT really the best of ideas – but it is a powerful option; in this case the user can take up to five spirit familiars; these are bought as Companions with a +2 ECL Spirit Template, at a base cost of 36 CP – but they are Specialized and Corrupted to bring the cost down to 12 CP; the user has no access to their abilities or services other than the abilities they grant (6 CP and +2 Bonus Uses of Grant of Aid Each), acquires multiple insanities (One per two spirit-familiars) from the constant whispering of their spirits in his or her dreams, and tends to take on portions of his or her “familiars” personalities. They may acquire even more spirit-companions, but exceeding your total wisdom score in such companions is likely to result in total lunacy.
    • Shaman: These Hann acquire a Familiar with the Spirit Messenger Template (12 CP) – and usually pick up a few more spirit-related abilities (Spirit Speech and Spirit Sense), early on.
    • Night Priests: A few Hann bond with a Dreamspawn – enhanced with the Might ability for a total cost of 12 CP – usually as children. This is considered a little odd even among the Hann, but it’s not too uncommon among wanderers and adventurers.
  • Innate Enchantment: The Hann learn as children to channel the forces generated by the balanced positive and negative energy within them into certain minor magical effects. As usual, these are unlimited use-activated, caster level one, and personal-only (x.7 cost) where applicable. The Hann have a total of 9000 GP worth of such abilities, at a basic cost of 10 CP.
    • Cloak of Shadows: +6 Competence Bonus to Hide, Move Silently, and Sleight of Hand (Skill Mastery, from The Practical Enchanter, 1400 GP)
    • Speak with Animals (2000 GP).
    • Warding Rune (from The Practical Enchanter, 1 + Caster Level/3, +4 max, resistance bonus on saves, 1400 GP).
    • Relieve Illness (+4 Enhancement Bonus on Saves versus Disease and a -2 on the damage resulting from failed saves, from the Hedge Magic spell list on this site, 1400 GP).
    • Relieve Poison (+4 Enhancement Bonus on Saves versus Poison and a -2 on the damage resulting from failed saves, from the Hedge Magic spell list on this site, 1400 GP).
    • Lesser Restoration (5/Day, 1400 GP).
  • Immunity/Stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial – only covers L0 and L1 effects, 2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
  • Immunity to Negative Energy Effects (Common, Major, Trivial; reduces the damage from such effects by 5 HP or 2 points of attribute damage – and provides a +2 bonus on any relevant saves, 3 CP).

   While the Hann racial package, with it’s total cost of 95 CP, would normally make them a +2 ECL race, it’s corrupted by the negative energies that they have incorporated into their lives, reducing the cost to 63 CP and the race to a +1 ECL race. Thanks to that negative energy infusion:

  • The Hann can only use Relics who’s cost can be covered by the points available from their Enthusiast allotment
  • The Hann cannot cast spells (or use psionic powers) of above level two. While they can use various methods of reducing the level of such effects to accommodate this limit, such methods are (as usual) normally limited to -3 spell levels, and are generally the province of specialists.
  • The Hann are obsessive; they have developed the ability to resist the corrosive effects of negative energy on the mind by focusing on a their goals; unfortunately, a given Hann may only have up to (Wis Mod +1, 1 Minimum) such goals – and will engage in their pursuit unconsciously when not paying attention and must make a DC 18 will check to resist their obsessions when a chance arises to follow them.

   The Hann are formidable as individuals and small tribes – but their lack of high-level magic means that they will never be a match for the more “civilized” races. as a group; they’re always going to be marginal dwellers in the wilderness and on scraps of land that no one else wants. Fortunately for them, they’re very well adapted to thriving in marginal territories.  

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