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Environmental Racial Variants




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Environmental Racial Variants

Racial variants are a great way add diversity to your game without drastically changing the ecology of your world. One method of altering the existing races is to introduce environmental variants, a number of which are presented here.

You may decide that one or more of these variants represent the “standard” version of a given race in your world. For stance, in a desert-based campaign the desert races presented below could replace the normal versions of the races.

Alternatively, these variants could coexist with the standard races (or even with other variants) in your world. For example, you can use them as world-building tools—the existence of racial offshoots may constitute living proof of an ancient racial migration in response to some disaster.

Each racial variant modifies the race to which it is applied (hereafter called the standard race) in minor ways. All racial traits of the standard race—racial skill bonuses, bonus feats, special sensory capabilities (such as darkvision and low-light vision), ability modifiers, combat bonuses against specific foes, and racial weapon proficiencies—are retained unless the variant specifies otherwise. For instance, a human retains his extra skill points and extra feat at 1st level, a dwarf retains his stonecunning ability, and an elf retains her ability to spot secret doors, unless the variant description specifically indicates otherwise.

Many of the variant races described in this section provide alternate ability score adjustments. In these cases, the adjustments given here supersede the standard race’s adjustments. For example, the aquatic goblin’s ability score adjustments are -2 Strength, +2 Constitution, and -2 Charisma. These adjustments take the place of the goblin’s normal -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, and -2 Charisma.

Because humans are, by nature, the most adaptable of races, environmental variants are generally not included for humans. The exception is aquatic humans, which, due to their ability to live and breathe underwater, are sufficiently different from other humans to warrant an environmental variant.

Aquatic Races

Beneath the surface of the ocean lies an exotic and a alien world, complete with canyons, mountains, volcanoes, and forests. Inky depths conceal sunken cities, sleeping deities, and titanic monsters. For residents of the aquatic realm, the sunny world of the air is as mysterious and unknown as the black depths of the sea.

Players wanting their characters to be ocean dwellers can use these variants. Or, their characters might encounter these races while journeying beneath the sea.

The following cultural attributes are common to most aquatic races.

Personality

An aquatic race usually shares the temperament and interests of the standard race, but its members tend to be more serene than their landborn cousins.

Physical Description

A water creature is taller and thinner than a standard member of her race. Her feet and hands are webbed to facilitate swimming. (Aquatic elves even have fins along their limbs that serve the same purpose.) A water creature’s skin ranges from pale green to dark blue. Her hair usually matches her skin color but may be one or two shades darker.

Water dwellers wear very little clothing, and what they do wear tends to cling tightly to their bodies. Some favor jewelry made of coral and other undersea treasures.

Relations

The attitudes of water creatures tend to be very similar to those of their landborn cousins. Members of aquatic races generally treat landborn creatures with guarded pleasantness on the rare occasions when they meet.

Alignment

Having avoided most of the political, economic, and military turmoil of the surface world, water creatures tend to take a much more placid view of life than their landborn cousins do. Members of an aquatic race favor neutrality in at least one aspect of alignment, if not both.

Lands

The civilizations of water dwellers often mirror those of their standard races, though water folk favor more loosely organized governments and more open societies. Water creatures generally have plenty of space available for building, so they rarely structure their habitats as densely populated cities. Instead, undersea races prefer to maintain loosely defined territories in which families and individuals can carve out their own niches.

Religion

Water creatures usually pay homage to at least one deity related to oceans, storms, or nature. Otherwise, their worshiping habits are similar to those of their standard races.

Language

Water creatures speak any languages spoken by members of their standard race. Many also learn Aquan to facilitate communication with other underwater creatures.

Adventurers

While there are plenty of adventures to be found beneath the waves, water creatures occasionally venture onto land to fulfill some important goal. Some are lured by the alien ways of the surface people, others feel a wanderlust that can be tamed only by walking the earth.

General Aquatic Racial Traits

All aquatic races have the following racial traits.

  • Aquatic: An aquatic race gains the aquatic subtype. An aquatic creature can breathe underwater. It cannot also breathe air unless it also has the amphibious special quality. An aquatic creature can hold its breath outside the water for 2 rounds per point of Constitution. After that, it begins to suffocate.
  • Swim speed: An aquatic creature always has a swim speed. It can move through water at its swim speed without making Swim checks. It has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.
  • Bonus Language: Aquan. Aquatic races are familiar with the language of water-based creatures.

Aquatic Race Level Adjustments

None of the aquatic races have level adjustments when your entire campaign is set underwater and all the PCs have the aquatic subtype, or when playing a nonaquatic campaign. The advantages gained by an aquatic character when in an aquatic environment even out with those of other aquatic characters, and their disadvantages in nonaquatic environments make up for any advantages they might enjoy.

However, when a mix of aquatic and nonaquatic characters occurs in an aquatic or ship-based campaign, aquatic characters enjoy a distinct advantage over their land-based cousins. In this case, consider applying a +1 level adjustment for all aquatic races, due to their swim speed, improved low-light vision or darkvision, and other special abilities.

Aquatic Dwarves

Beneath the waves, dwarves remain the masters of stone. They build massive, elaborate fortresses near the mineral-rich waters that surround undersea thermal vents.

Racial Traits

Aquatic dwarves have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all the dwarf racial traits, as well as those noted below.

  • +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -4 Dexterity, -2 Charisma. Aquatic dwarves are tough enough to survive the brutal environment of the sea floor, but rely on strength and heavy armor rather than agility.
  • An aquatic dwarf has a swim speed of 20 feet.

Aquatic Elves

The aquatic landscape is dotted with forests of kelp and roofed with sporadic blankets of sargasso weed. Hidden among these watery groves are the ancient settlements of the elves.

Racial Traits

Aquatic elves have the general aquatic racial traits described above, elf racial traits, and aquatic elf traits, with the following exception.

  • No gills.

Aquatic Gnomes

Aquatic gnomes travel the world beneath the waves in elaborate wood and shell chariots pulled by domesticated sea creatures. Their vehicles range in size from single-person launches to those large enough to house several families.

Racial Traits

Aquatic gnomes have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all gnome racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • An aquatic gnome has a swim speed of 20 feet.
  • Well-Traveled: Aquatic gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on Sense Motive and Gather Information checks. They always know when their welcome is wearing out.
  • No +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds: Aquatic gnomes do not come into combat with kobolds as frequently as their land-bound cousins. They retain their bonus against goblinoids, however.
  • No racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks or Listen checks: Aquatic gnomes’ visual acuity has improved at the expense of their other senses.

Aquatic Goblins

Aquatic goblins are feared and reviled as ocean-dwelling piranhas. A band of aquatic goblins and their shark mounts is likely to swoop down on any individual or group perceived as weak, to strip it of everything from gold and jewelry to clothing and hides. Leaving a trail of junk behind them as they evaluate their loot, the bandits swim off in search of other unlucky victims.

Aquatic goblins to take up adventuring for many reasons. While most goblins are neutral evil, many have different beliefs and seek like-minded individuals outside the tribe. Some lack opportunities to advance, and tire of living on the scraps of those with more authority or higher social position.

Racial Traits

Aquatic goblins have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all goblin racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma. Aquatic goblins are hardy creatures, but weaker than many races.
  • An aquatic goblin has a swim speed of 30 feet.
  • Thievery: Aquatic goblins get a +2 racial bonus on Disable Device and Sleight of Hand checks.
  • An aquatic goblin’s racial bonus on Move Silently and Ride checks is only +2. Aquatic goblins are known for riding Medium sharks.

Aquatic Half-Elves

Aquatic elves sometimes wed aquatic humans, just as land-based elves sometimes marry surface dwelling humans. The aquatic results are aquatic half-elf children. They often serve as the diplomats and negotiators for either their human or elf communities, depending on where they live.

Racial Traits

Aquatic half-elves have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all half-elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • An aquatic half-elf has a swim speed of 40 feet.
  • No racial bonus on Gather Information checks.
  • +2 racial bonus on Survival checks: Aquatic half-elves spend a great deal of time traveling between elf and human settlements on their diplomacy work, and so are accustomed to surviving in the undersea wilderness.

Aquatic Half-Orcs

In their remote and wild tribal homes, aquatic orcs occasionally coexist with barbarian tribes of aquatic humans. Sometimes the two groups intermarry, producing aquatic half-orcs.

Racial Traits

Aquatic half orcs have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all half-orc racial traits, in addition to those noted below.

  • An aquatic half-orc has a swim speed of 30 feet.
  • Emissaries: As emissaries for their tribes, aquatic half-orcs receive a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Gather Information checks. They aren’t the best diplomats under the waves, but they’re a far sight better than their orc cousins.

Aquatic Halflings

Aquatic halflings are much more settled than their surface-dwelling cousins. Their slight size means they are easily buffeted by currents that flow beneath the waves like the rivers of the surface world. Many predatory creatures think nothing of swooping down on such small prey. As a result, aquatic halflings often live among dwarves and humans, within the defenses those races provide.

Racial Traits

Aquatic halflings have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all halfling racial traits, in addition to those noted below.

  • An aquatic halfling has a swim speed of 20 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: An aquatic halfling can see four times as far as a nonaquatic human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Aquatic Humans

Aquatic humans have a place beneath the surface of the sea, perhaps as descendants of forgotten civilizations whose island cities sank beneath the surface. They may replace merfolk in such campaigns, or exist along with them.

Racial Traits

Aquatic humans have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all human racial traits, in addition to those noted below.

  • An aquatic human has a swim speed of 30 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: An aquatic human can see four times as far as a nonaquatic human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Aquatic Kobolds

Aquatic kobolds are seldom seen outside their mines, much like their surface-dwelling cousins—despite the fact that their broad tails make them exceptional swimmers. They dig constantly, always expanding their subterranean territory, and as a result frequently come into conflict with aquatic dwarves. Aquatic kobolds often hire mercenaries to fight for them, hiding behind their carefully constructed traps and other defenses and paying their defenders with the mineral wealth they uncover while expanding their warrens.

The life of an aquatic kobold is one of constant toil and fear. Some few kobolds seek peace of mind through personal power and boon companions. These rare individuals become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Aquatic kobolds have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all kobold racial traits, as well as the following trait.

Aquatic Orcs

Aquatic orcs survive on the slopes of cliff sides or undersea drops, far from the warmth of volcanic vents and the nurturing light of the sun. As such, they control access to the secrets of the deep ocean trenches—but are menaced by fell creatures that rise up out of the trenches in search of fresh prey.

Aquatic orcs stand ever vigilant against attackers and thieves when they’re not making preemptive strikes against those foolish enough to settle near their territory.

Occasionally an individual orc questions the need for constant battle, or seeks strategies other than brute force. Such iconoclasts often leave their tribes—at least temporarily—to become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Aquatic orcs have the general aquatic racial traits described above and all orc racial traits, as well as the following trait.

Arctic Races

Your campaign might be set in a snow-swept expanse of glaciers, mountains, and icy seas. Settlements cluster around sources of heat, including hot springs and volcanic vents. Frozen in the ice are relics of a forgotten, warmer time. Strange creatures descend from the glaciers, wreaking havoc and drawing adventurers like beacons.

Players wanting their characters to be nonhuman arctic dwellers can build characters using these variants, or their characters could encounter these races while journeying across the ice and snow.

The following cultural attributes are common to most arctic races.

Personality

Nearly all ice dwellers are more grim and humorless than members of their standard races. Efficiency in word and deed is crucial to survival in the harsh arctic realms, so arctic creatures tend to get straight to the point in conversation, and they have little patience for those who speak in riddles or half truths. Because they must struggle for even the most basic existence in the severe climate of the arctic regions, excess of any kind is offensive to them. Thus, they tend to be frugal and to value hard work for the benefit of all over individual accomplishment.

Physical Description

An ice dweller is hardier than a member of his standard race, and he tends to carry extra weight on his frame even when in exceptional physical condition. His skin can be any shade from pale white to light blue, and his hair and eyes can be of any color found among members of his standard race.

Arctic creatures wear many layers of clothing as protection against the intense cold of their homeland. They do not particularly value jewelry or other ornamentation, and they carry only what they need to survive,

Relations

Those who spend their lives in the bleak and comfortless arctic regions treat outsiders with guarded wariness, if not outright distrust. Though members of most arctic tribes are willing to welcome strangers in from the cold, they tend to watch such newcomers very closely and hurry them on their way as soon as possible. Of course, a stranger with a particularly useful skill may be invited to stay—it is difficult to turn away a strong back or a skilled toolmaker in the desolate and frigid lands where the arctic races make their homes.

In addition to their particular distrust of outsiders, members of arctic races tend to harbor many of the same prejudices held by their standard races.

Alignment

Arctic races are generally inclined toward the alignment preferences of their standard races.

Lands

It is difficult for any living thing to survive in the frozen wastelands where arctic races live. Thus, most other races know little or nothing of their arctic cousins, and what they do know is often tainted by legend and hearsay. Most arctic creatures make their homes in ice caves or beneath the ground, although some tribes have adapted to life on the surface by building ice houses and other structures that can survive fierce winter storms.

Religion

Arctic races worship deities typical of their standard races.

Adventurers

Ice dwellers must exert themselves merely to survive in the bitter climate of their homelands, so they tend to make ideal adventurers. Those who dislike the constant struggle of life in the arctic often travel far from their homes in search of comfort, if not adventure. Occasionally, arctic tribes send emissaries into temperate lands to gather aid against particularly strong enemies or to secure emergency stores during hard times.

General Arctic Racial Trait

All arctic races have the following racial trait.

  • Cold Endurance: Members of arctic races have a +4 racial bonus on Fortitude saves made to resist the effects of cold weather or exposure.

Arctic Dwarves

In the icy wastes, dwarves are the masters of both ice and stone. They build massive, elaborate defenses of ice and rock around the mines where they dig for copper, silver, gold, and iron.

Racial Traits

Arctic dwarves have the general arctic racial trait described above and all dwarf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -4 Dexterity, -2 Charisma. Arctic dwarves are tough enough to survive the brutal environment of the arctic, but rely on strength and heavy armor rather than agility.
  • Icecunning: Arctic dwarves can apply their stonecunning benefits to structures and natural features made of ice, as well as those made of stone.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds: Arctic dwarves must defend against constant assaults by kobolds. This trait replaces the dwarf’s racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs.
  • +2 racial bonus on Appraise and Craft checks related to items made of ice.

Arctic Elves

The arctic landscape is dotted here and there with permanent fog banks caused by subterranean heat interacting with snow and ice or warm springs steaming in the freezing air. Hidden in these oases of warmth are the ancient settlements of the elves.

Racial Traits

Arctic elves have the general arctic racial trait described above and all elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity: Arctic elves look down on physical exertion, preferring quick action when necessary.
  • +2 racial bonus on any one Craft skill (chosen by the character at the time of creation).
  • +2 racial bonus on Survival checks made in arctic environments: Arctic elves are naturally adept at staying alive in the harsh conditions of their homeland.
  • No racial bonus on Search checks.
  • No special ability to notice a secret or concealed door within 5 feet without actively looking for it.

Arctic Gnomes

Arctic gnomes travel the ice and snow on cleverly constructed sleds pulled by immense woolly mammoths. The animals serve as transportation, a source of fibers for weaving, and walls against the elements. The sleds are enclosed, often transporting entire families.

Racial Traits

Arctic gnomes have the general arctic racial trait described above and all gnome racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 racial bonus on Sense Motive checks: Arctic gnomes always seem to know instinctively when their welcome is wearing out.
  • No racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks.

Arctic Goblins

Arctic goblins are feared and reviled because their appearance heralds theft, assaults, and property damage. They survive by moving from place to place, constantly driven out of their previous homes by irate neighbors.

Arctic goblins to take up adventuring for many reasons. While most goblins are neutral evil, many have different beliefs and seek like-minded individuals outside the tribe. Some just want an opportunity to settle down and work to earn a better reputation than that of their fellows.

Racial Traits

Arctic goblins have the general arctic racial trait described above and all goblin racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma. Arctic goblins are hardy creatures, but weaker than many races.
  • Low-Light Vision: An arctic goblin can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on Bluff and Sleight of Hand checks: Arctic goblins are natural thieves, snatching up anything that isn’t nailed down.
  • No racial bonus on Move Silently checks: Arctic goblins aren’t as stealthy as their nonarctic cousins.

Arctic Half-Elves

Arctic elves wed humans as often as basic elves do, producing arctic half-elf children. These half-breeds tend to have great wanderlust, and are uncomfortable staying in one place for very long. They often carry messages and rumors with them as they travel between communities.

Racial Traits

Arctic half-elves have the general arctic racial trait described above and all half-elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • No racial bonus on Diplomacy checks: Their transient nature prevents arctic half-elves from being as well trusted as their normal counterparts.
  • +2 racial bonus on Survival checks: Arctic half-elves spend a great deal of time traveling between elf and human settlements, and are accustomed to surviving in the wilderness.

Arctic Half-Orcs

Many tribes of arctic orcs eke out a living on the warm slopes of volcanic mountains, herding elk and caribou. often their mutual dependence on sources of fresh water and meat brings them into contact with arctic-dwelling human barbarians. The resulting offspring are sometimes welcome in places where full orcs are not, valued for their tenacity, courage, and combat prowess.

Racial Traits

Arctic half-orcs have the general arctic racial trait described above and all half-orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: An arctic half-orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks: Arctic half-orcs often serve as emissaries for the arctic orc tribes that spawned them.

Arctic Halflings

Arctic Halflings are hunters and fishermen, stalking walrus and seal and putting to sea to fish, usually in the company of larger races such as humans. They are a peaceful, spiritual people whose rituals include preexpedition prayers for forgiveness from the animals they hope to kill.

Racial Traits

Arctic Halflings have the general arctic racial trait described above and all halfling racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 racial bonus on Swim checks: Arctic halflings rarely swim by choice, but are reasonably good at saving themselves from drowning.
  • No racial bonus on attack rolls with slings. Arctic Halflings do not particularly favor slings for hunting.
  • Favored Class: Ranger. A multiclass arctic halfling’s ranger class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. This trait replaces the base halfling’s favored class.

Arctic Kobolds

Arctic kobolds are seldom seen outside their mines. They dig constantly, always expanding their subterranean territory (which is often carefully constructed to tap into geothermal vents for heat, and as a result are in constant conflict with arctic dwarves. Arctic kobolds often hire mercenaries to fight for them, hiding behind their carefully constructed traps and other defenses and paying their defenders with the mineral wealth they uncover while expanding their warrens.

Racial Traits

Arctic kobolds have the general arctic racial trait described above and all kobold racial traits, with one exception as noted below.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, -2 Wisdom: Arctic kobolds are stronger than other kobolds, but are weaker of will.

Arctic Orcs

Arctic orcs are primitive herders, eking out a living on the slopes of volcanic mountains and building their crude huts near hot springs or steam vents. They herd woolly cattle, caribou, and elk. As a result, they control large sources of meat, water, and heat—all things coveted by others living in or traveling through the arctic. What they don’t have, they take by force.

Arctic orcs stand ever vigilant against attackers and thieves when they’re not making preemptive strikes against those foolish enough to settle near their territory.

Occasionally an individual orc questions the need for constant battle, or seeks strategies other than brute force. Such iconoclasts often leave their tribes—at least temporarily—to become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Arctic orcs have the general arctic racial trait described above and all orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: An arctic orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • No light sensitivity.
  • +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal checks: Arctic orcs are herders, and they rely on their skills with animals to keep their tribes fed.

Desert Races

In a campaign set in a vast desert, water is worth its weight in gold, and shifting sands occasionally reveal long-buried ruins of forgotten civilizations.

Players wanting their characters to be nonhuman desert dwellers can build characters using these variants, or their characters could encounter these races while journeying across the sands.

The following cultural attributes are common to most desert races.

Personality

Members of the desert races are usually quite friendly, although during the day they may seem brusque as they hurry to get about their business and out of the oppressive heat. At night, however, they offer warm greetings and good drink to any travelers who happen upon their camps. To them, a stranger is neither friend nor foe—just good company whose presence brings a moment of joy.

Physical Description

A desert creature is usually hardier in build than a member of his standard race. Bronze skin and dark hair are typical, since such adaptations tend to make life in the scorching desert more comfortable.

The clothing favored by desert creatures tends to be loose and light, and they wear just enough to keep the heat off during the day and the chill off at night. Most desert creatures wear headgear that not only protects them from the sun but also provides some warmth during cold desert nights.

Relations

Most desert dwellers are not choosy about trading partners, but many share the prejudices of their standard races. Regardless of race, most share a dislike of the scavenging desert kobolds and the omnipresent nuisance of desert goblins.

Alignment

The predominant alignment among desert races is neutral. It takes equal parts of law and chaos to survive under the harsh desert sun. Evil folk soon find themselves without friends, and to be isolated in an environment that cannot long support individuals means certain death. In contrast, those who place the principles of goodness over the needs of survival often find themselves in dire straits. Life in the desert often requires one to meet one’s own needs before tending to another’s.

Lands

Except for desert dwarves and desert gnomes, most desert dwellers are nomads who wander from one settlement to the next in search of vital supplies. Thus, they have no true lands of their own. Desert dwarves, however, are very protective of their settlements and private oases, and they are willing to defend them to the death if need be.

Religion

Desert creatures tend to have the same religious preferences as members of their standard races, with an emphasis on the worship of sun, light, or fire deities.

Language

Members of desert races speak the same languages as their standard races.

Adventurers

Opportunity for adventure is common on the burning sands. Denizens of the desert may turn to adventuring because they find the scavenger’s life too difficult, or simply because they crave the rewards of the adventuring life. Although nomadic societies are often made up of networks of extended families, those who leave them to pursue their own goals rarely return.

General Desert Racial Trait

All desert races gain the following racial trait.

  • Heat Endurance: Members of desert races gain a +4 racial bonus on Fortitude saves made to resist the effects of hot weather.

Desert Dwarves

Because of their skill with stone and engineering, dwarves are acknowledged masters of locating water and digging wells. The importance of water to desert peoples gives the dwarves both great wealth and great political power.

Racial Traits

Desert dwarves have the general desert racial trait described above and all dwarf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution: Desert dwarves are tough enough to survive the brutal environment of the desert, but they rely more on cunning and fast talk than agility.
  • No stonecunning.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against humanoids of the reptilian subtype (including kobolds and lizardfolk) and dragons (including half-dragons): Desert dwarves are trained in special combat techniques that allow them to fight common enemies more effectively. This bonus replaces the normal dwarf’s bonus against orcs and goblinoids.
  • +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against dragons: This replaces the dwarf’s dodge bonus to AC against giants. Dragons are a more common threat than giants in desert climes, and desert dwarves have adapted to meet this challenge.
  • +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Knowledge (dungeoneering), and Profession (miner) checks: Desert dwarves protect a great deal of information about what lives beneath the desert and how to reach it.
  • No racial bonus on Craft checks.

Desert Elves

In the desert, elves follow nomadic lifestyles. They herd horses, cattle, and goats across the sands, sleeping during the day and working or traveling at night. Their wandering takes them many places and puts them in contact with many cultures. As a result, they are welcome everywhere for the news and exotic trade goods they carry.

Racial Traits

Desert elves have the general desert racial trait described above and all elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity: Desert elves are physically weaker than their normal cousins, but are also hardier, toughened by the harsh reality of desert life.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Desert elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the scimitar, rapier, and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats. Desert elves prefer the scimitar to the longsword and the shortbow to the longbow, because they can use shortbows while mounted.
  • +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal and Ride checks: Desert elves spend most of their lives riding and working with animals.
  • No racial bonus on Listen checks.

Desert Gnomes

Desert dwarves may dig and maintain wells, but desert gnomes pay for them. Desert gnomes establish and operate fortified trading posts around wells and oases, cultivating crops wherever possible and scouring the surrounding desert for the wealth of buried civilizations. Desert gnome outposts are rarely quiet, doing business both day and night.

Racial Traits

Desert gnomes have the general desert racial trait described above and all gnome racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 racial bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive checks: Desert gnomes are skilled at haggling and negotiating.
  • No racial bonus on Listen checks or Craft (alchemy) checks.

Desert Goblins

Desert goblins are feared and reviled because their appearance often heralds the arrival of a horde of nomadic hobgoblins and bugbears. As the desert dwarf proverb puts it, “The only good thing about goblins is that once they arrive, you know they’ll soon be gone.”

Desert goblins take up adventuring for many reasons. While most goblins are neutral evil, many have different beliefs and seek like-minded individuals outside the tribe. Some lack opportunities to advance, and they tire of living on the scraps of those with more authority or higher social position.

Racial Traits

Desert goblins have the general desert racial trait described above and all goblin racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: A desert goblin can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on Gather information checks: Desert goblins soak up gossip like sponges when they visit towns or settlements.

Desert Half-Elves

Desert elves often wed humans, just as their more common cousins do, producing desert half-elf children. These offspring often serve as diplomats and negotiators for either their human or elf communities, depending on where they live.

Racial Traits

Desert half-elves have the general desert racial trait described above and all half-elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 racial bonus on Sense Motive checks: A desert half-elfs survival often relies on his ability to gauge the social situation.
  • No racial bonus on Listen checks.

Desert Half-Orcs

Many tribes of orcs live in isolated desert canyons or the ruins of ancient cities, now abandoned to the sands. Often their mutual dependence on sources of fresh water brings them into contact with desert-dwelling human barbarians. The resulting offspring valued for their tenacity, courage, and combat prowess, are often welcome in places where full-blooded orcs are not.

Racial Traits

Desert half-orcs have the general desert racial trait described above and all half-orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence: The desert half-orc is lean and hardy rather than muscular, but has adapted to be more socially adept than a typical half-orc.
  • Low-Light Vision: A desert half-orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • Run: Desert half-orcs receive Run as a racial bonus feat. Typically too poor to afford mounts, half-orcs learn from an early age to get from place to place by running.

Desert Halflings

Like gnomes, halflings are most likely to be active during the day. Most other races regard them somewhat like cats, in that they appear whether invited or not, work at what they want when they want, and disappear without prior notice. A desert gnome proverb observes that “Halflings in your town are a source of trouble, but at least they don’t tolerate competition.”

Racial Traits

Desert halflings have the general desert racial trait described above and all halfling racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • +2 racial bonus on Hide and Sleight of Hand checks: Desert halflings are stealthy and nimble-fingered.
  • No racial bonus on Climb and Jump checks.

Desert Kobolds

Desert kobolds live like scaly, intelligent rats, hiding in forgotten corners of settlements, living just over the dunes from trading posts, and always reappearing right after the residents think they’ve finally been killed off.

Desert kobolds claim they were among the first to settle the deserts, and that gnomes threw them out into the wilderness. Though their survival relies on goods available at oasis settlements and trading posts, desert kobolds hate the gnomes who often build and run such settlements.

The life of a desert kobold is one of constant fear, which motivates them to build traps and fortifications and to ambush intruders. Some few kobolds, however, seek peace of mind through personal power and boon companions. These rare individuals become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Desert kobolds have the general desert racial trait described above and all kobold racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -4 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Wisdom: Desert kobolds are hardier than other kobolds, but are weak-willed.
  • No light sensitivity.
  • +2 racial bonus on Survival checks.
  • No racial bonus on Profession (mining) checks: Desert kobolds don’t mine.
  • Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass desert kobold’s rogue class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. This trait replaces the normal kobold’s favored class.

Desert Orcs

Desert orcs are martial creatures who live for battle. Prowess in battle is their only measure of social standing, and they don’t particularly care if weaker races get hurt when orcs test their skills. In fact, the chief difference between desert orcs and desert goblinoids is that the former never accept defeat—when desert orcs attack, they conquer or die trying.

Desert orcs live in a perpetual state of war, participating in eternal night sorties from their isolated desert canyons and ancient ruined cities to attack settlements and expand their territory. Only the burning sun, and their weakness when in it, keeps them from ruling the desert.

Occasionally an individual orc questions the need for constant battle, or seeks strategies other than brute force. Such iconoclasts often leave their tribes—at least temporarily—to become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Desert orcs have the general desert racial trait described above and all orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: A desert orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • Endurance: Desert orcs gain Endurance as a racial bonus feat.

Jungle Races

A vast equatorial jungle, where tiny trading posts hacked from the vegetation dot riversides, giant vines and tree roots conceal cities of forgotten societies, and races that predate human civilization struggle to maintain their ancient traditions, makes a compelling setting for a campaign.

Players wanting their characters to be nonhuman jungle dwellers can build characters using these variants, or their characters could encounter these races while journeying through the green labyrinth of the jungle.

The following cultural attributes are common to most jungle dwelling races.

Personality

Jungle races tend to be very territorial, and they guard their families and clans closely. They are not quick to trust strangers, but they form strong bonds with outsiders who do manage to earn their trust.

Physical Description

A jungle dweller looks very much like a member of her standard race. Typically, only a jungle creature’s rough, hide-sewn clothing and unkempt appearance mark her as unusual.

Relations

Members of the jungle races are very territorial, so they interact with other creatures only when absolutely necessary. They often maintain good trading relations with other wild races, but they rarely trade with civilized cultures except through intermediaries such as local druids or rangers.

Alignment

Jungle races are often more chaotic than members of their standard races, rejecting the typical strictures of civilized society. However, their loyalty to family is high.

Lands

Jungle races avoid heavily populated areas, settling in remote areas of wilderness.

Religion

Members of the jungle races tend to be more superstitious than religious. Most rely on religious leaders (some of whom are actually adepts of great power) to give them spiritual guidance. Individuals may pray to aspects of animal and nature deities, but only rarely does one of them achieve true communion with such a deity.

Adventurers

Jungle dwellers may set out into the world for a variety of reasons. They may need the help of a group of civilized folk to avert a prophesied disaster, or they might be asked by tribal elders to retrieve an artifact from an ancient burial site to protect them from a coming conflict. Often, such a quest is only the beginning of a jungle creature’s adventuring career. She may be lured away from her people by the wonders of civilized society, or she may form a bond with outsiders who will never be welcome in her tribal lands.

Jungle Dwarves

Because of their height, dwarves can duck under vegetation that impedes humans—yet they are stockier than gnomes or halflings, and able to bull through what they can’t avoid. Hardy to a fault, jungle dwarves are explorers, pathfinders, and traveling merchants.

Racial Traits

Jungle dwarves have all dwarf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: A jungle dwarf can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 bonus on Heal, Knowledge (nature), and Survival checks: Jungle dwarves know a great deal about what lives in the jungle, and are adept at finding it (or avoiding it, as the case may be).
  • +2 bonus on Spot checks: Jungle dwarves have keen eyesight.
  • No stonecunning: Jungle dwarves live aboveground.
  • No racial bonus on Craft checks related to stone or metal items.
  • Favored Class: Ranger. A multiclass jungle dwarf’s ranger class does not count when determining whether she takes an XP penalty for multiclassing. Jungle dwarves need both outdoor skills and combat proficiency to survive. This trait replaces the normal dwarf’s favored class.

Jungle Elves

Jungle elves are somewhat more primal than their baseline counterparts. In many jungles, ancient elven cities have been swallowed up by the voracious encroachment of trees, vines, and animals, leaving just a shadowy remnant of the population to remember the former glories of their lost civilization.

Racial Traits

Jungle elves have all elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Weapon Proficiency: Jungle elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the handaxe, rapier, shortsword, and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats. Proficiency with a rapier is a vestige of past glories and an honored tradition among jungle elves. The other weapons are useful tools for survival in their environment.
  • +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (history) checks: Jungle elves pride themselves on being the keepers of much lore that has been forgotten to others.
  • No ability to notice secret or concealed doors by passing within 5 feet.

Jungle Gnomes

Jungle gnomes live in and along the mighty rivers that wind through the jungles. A jungle gnome town is often a collection of boats tied together across a river, with channels to allow passing vessels through (after they pay a toll, of course). Jungle gnomes are also seen traveling the rivers, trading what they can find to those they meet along the way.

Racial Traits

Jungle gnomes have all gnome racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • No racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds.
  • No dodge bonus to Armor Class against giants.
  • +2 racial bonus on Climb and Swim checks: Jungle gnomes live their lives clambering in and out of boats, and in and out of the water.
  • +2 racial bonus on Craft (shipbuilding) checks: A little lumber and a few simple tools make for a happy and industrious jungle gnome.
  • +2 racial bonus on Use Rope checks: Jungle gnomes consider rope the most useful tool on their boats.
  • No racial bonus on Listen or Craft (alchemy) checks.

Jungle Goblins

If monkeys were evil and could speak, they’d be a lot like jungle goblins. Jungle goblins are territorial, tree-dwelling savages with a sadistic streak a mile wide. Their skills at climbing and moving from tree to tree, combined with their cunning and vicious nature, cause even other goblinoids to respect them.

Jungle goblins generally take up adventuring to gain personal power and serve their ambitions within their clans, or because they somehow lack the evil nature of the rest of their kind.

Racial Traits

Jungle goblins have goblin racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • A jungle goblin has a climb speed of 20 feet. Jungle goblins are natural climbers, able to scramble up trees with ease. A jungle goblin has a +8 racial bonus on all Climb checks. It must make a Climb check to climb any wall or slope with a DC of more than 0, but it always can choose to take 10, even if rushed or threatened while climbing. If it chooses an accelerated climb, it moves at double its climb speed and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. It cannot run while climbing. It retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus on their attacks against a climbing jungle goblin. Also, jungle goblins add their Dexterity modifier to Climb checks instead of their Strength modifier.
  • Low-Light Vision: A jungle goblin can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +4 racial bonus on Jump checks: Jungle goblins are accomplished leapers.
  • No racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks.
  • Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclass jungle goblin’s barbarian class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. This trait replaces the normal goblins favored class.

Jungle Half-Elves

Some elf communities believe that introducing human blood into their families is a way to invigorate their race once again. Others prefer a mixed-race emissary to deal with outsiders, rather than a pure-blood elf. Either way, jungle half-elves are the result.

Racial Traits

Jungle half-elves have all half-elf racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

Jungle Half-Orcs

The jungle is a wonderful home for orcs. It provides them with places to hide, plenty of food, and as much or as little contact with other races as they want—which is always more than the other races want. On occasion, such contact with humans produces half-orcs.

Racial Traits

Jungle half-orcs have all half-orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: A jungle half-orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on Climb and Jump checks: Jungle half-orcs move almost as easily through the trees oftheir jungle home as they do on the ground.

Jungle Halflings

Jungle Halflings live a much more settled life than their normal counterparts do. They build villages along rivers and burn clearings in the jungle to plant their crops. In addition, they gather the most abundant food source in their environment, fish, and hunt with poison-tipped weapons.

Racial Traits

Jungle Halflings have all halfling racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Weapon Proficiency: Jungle Halflings receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the throwing axe, handaxe, and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats. For jungle halflings, the axe is both a practical tool and a ceremonial item. They grow up using the other weapons for hunting and fishing.
  • Poison Use: jungle halflings use poison extensively when hunting, and as a result never poison themselves when applying poison to a weapon or when using a poisoned weapon in combat. Jungle halflings make extensive use of poisons harvested from vermin, particularly those that damage Dexterity scores.
  • No racial bonus on saving throws. Jungle Halflings have no unusual ability to avoid mishaps.
  • +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saying throws against poison: Jungle Halflings have adapted a resistance to their own favorite method of bringing down prey.
  • No morale bonus on saving throws against fear: Jungle halflings may be cunning, but they are no braver than other races.
  • No racial bonus on attack rolls with slings.
  • Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclass halfling’s barbarian class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. Jungle halflings live much closer to nature, and must rely on cunning, resourcefulness, persistence, courage, and mercilessness to survive. This trait replaces the normal halfling’s favored class.

Jungle Kobolds

Clouded mountain peaks, many of which have religious or ceremonial importance to those who live below, tower over jungle canopies. Few know of the ancient ruined cities near the rocky summits, concealed amid the clouds. Dwelling in such ancient ruins are the jungle kobolds.

Those few explorers who have reached the cities report that their jungle kobold residents claim to have built them, pointing to reptilian and draconic images on the walls and in the architecture as evidence. The explorers report, however, that the cities were obviously built by and for people larger than the little reptilian humanoids. Jungle kobolds lack the cowardice common to other kobolds, thanks to the isolation of their mountain peak homes. By all reports they show a calmer, more generous side than other kobolds do.

Racial Traits

Jungle kobolds have kobold racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • -4 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence: Life at high altitude has toughened jungle kobolds, but their isolation has hindered their intellectual growth.
  • Altitude Adaptation: Jungle kobolds are adapted to life at high altitudes, and thus don’t suffer altitude sickness. They are always considered acclimated to high altitudes.
  • +2 racial bonus on Climb checks: Jungle kobolds add their Dexterity modifier to Climb checks instead of their Strength modifier.
  • No racial bonus on Craft (trapmaking) or Profession (miner) checks.

Jungle Orcs

If gorillas were evil and could speak, they’d be a lot like jungle orcs. Jungle orcs live a simple existence, moving through the jungle hunting and gathering food in clan groups (equivalent in size to the squads given in the orc monster entry, plus 150% noncombatants). Although combat is common within the clans, it’s relatively bloodless and hardly ever lethal. Only when jungle orcs encounter other clans or other races do they show the true extent of their violent, evil nature.

Conquest is a baffling concept to jungle orcs. They attack, take whatever strikes their fancy, and move on. They lack the discipline required to maintain the things they steal, so they always seek weakly defended settlements and caravans to replace those things that break or wear out in the humidity of the jungle.

Occasionally an individual jungle orc questions the need for constant battle, or seeks strategies other than brute force. These are often the more intelligent members of their clans. Such iconoclasts often leave the jungle—at least temporarily—to become adventurers.

Racial Traits

Jungle orcs have all orc racial traits, with additions and exceptions as noted below.

  • Low-Light Vision: A jungle orc can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • No darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on Heal and Survival checks: Jungle orcs must be self-sufficient in order to survive their environment.