--Ogava Basa, skarn incarnate
Skarns are strong, sophisticated warriors of intellect. Like the rilkans, they are descended from the vanished mishtai progenitor race, which long ago infused all mishtai with incarnum in an attempt to achieve "perfection of form." Skarns appear human except for the five or six vertically aligned reptilian spines that project from the anterior of each forearm, posterior of each calf, and the upper back. Skarn society is insular and demands both mental and physical achievement. They are a proud race--some would say arrogant--and they boast soulborns, paladins, rangers, and fighters of other "hybrid" classes that exemplify perfection of both mind and body.
Skarn Racial TraitsEdit
Skarns are about as tall as humans, but they are much more solidly built. They average 6 feet tall and 210 pounds. They appear human save for their most salient feature, their spines. These spines grow to six to twelve inches in length and range from turquoise and aquamarine in females to navy and sapphire in males. The spines are not retractable, but they can be held flush against the skin with little effort. At social occasions, the spines are layered with chiffon or gold chains. Spine jewelry and grooming are as important to a skarn as beard braiding and knotting are to a dwarf.
- +2 strength, -2 Dexterity: The hulking skarns are extraordinarily strong, but tend to be slow.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, skarns have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Skarn base land speed is 30
- Humanoid (Reptilian): Skarns are humanoids with the reptilian subtype.
- Natural Weapon (Spine): A skarn can make one attack with his arm spines each round, either with his primary hand or with his off-hand (taking the normal penalties for fighting with an off-hand weapon). This attack deals 1d6 points of piercing damage; if it is used as an offhand weapon, the skarn may add only one half his strength bonus to the damage roll. A skarn can't attack with his spines and a weapon wielded by the same arm in the same round. If a skarn makes a spine attack with an arm carrying a shield,, he loses the shield's bonus to AC until the start of his next turn. If the skarn has a soulmeld bound to his arms chakra, his spine attacks ae treated as lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
- +2 racial bonus on intimidate and climb checks: Skarns learn quickly how to use their spines to ceate a display of ferocity. These same spines ait skarns when they climb.
- Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Elf, Celestrial, Abyssal, and Infernal. Because skarns consider themselves slightly improved over the average mortal race, they learn the languages of those they consider to be their approximate equals.
- Favored Class: Incarnate
Skarns prefer hierarchical societies with clearly defined social classes. They prefer cities to farms, planning to spontaneity and cotillions to revels.
Skarns are usually lawful. They count an equal number of aherents to the ethos of good and evil among their race, but chaotic skarns are rare. Chaotic skarns are nevertheless tolerated and even welcomed in Skarn society, since they are still skarns as opposed to members of some lesser race. Such free-spirited skarns cannot stand to remain with their fellows, however, where they are typically treated as amusing black sheep rather than serious iconoclasts.
Skarns prefer artifice to the vagaries of the natural, favoring large cities over underdeveloped locales. Potential sites for skarn cities include defensible positions on bluffs overlooking river junctions, deepwater ports, or fertile land reclaimed from the sea through a complicated dyke system.
Skarns prize architecture dearly. It is their first and most loved art, and their cities reflect this passion. A skarn city is a celebration of styles, a harmony of building and landscape flowing from one sity gate to its opposite. In general, skarns prefer powerfully built, tall buildings with skyway arches and caryatid buttresses. These buildings can rise to ten or more stories. A skarn city always includes several huge amphitheaters and public squares for speeches, elections, and spine-fighting rituals.
Governments in skarn cities can vary from oligarchies to feudal monarchies to representative senates, but they all share three characteristics: they are strict, active, and powerful. Unlike in some towns, where council members might be puppets to the thieves' guild or the local temple, the skarns' penchant for social order guarantees that the lawfully invested government remains the uncontested supreme authority in the city. Outside of the government, skarn aristocrats and decorated military officials wield considerable influence.
The skarns believe that they have almost attainted "perfection of form" without any help from the deities--only from incarnum. Hence, skarns honor incarnum before any god. This is ot to say, though, that skarns are irreligious. Temples to Wee Jas in particular are common in skarn communities.
Skarns do not get along well with others. They hold that the other races are generally inferior to the races of the mishtai. It is not that skarns dislike the other races; they simply consider the other races misguided for not believing that "perfection of form" is achievable. The one exception to this indifference is the rilkan race. Skarns blame the rilkans for ruining the mishtai's racial experiment. The story goes that the mishtai were close to forming the perfect body coupled with the perfect mind when a faction within the mishtai meldshapers arose, advocating the pursuit of goalls other than physical and mental perfection. These libertines, who gave rise to the rilkan race, fomented such social upheaval that the intense focus demanded by the great goal could not be maintained, and thus the mishtai fell short of their aspiration.
Skarns are strong, noble characters whose sense of purpose is as overt and sharp as the spines on their forearms. They immerse themselves in all kinds of fights, from sword melees with necrocarnum zombies to verbal repartee with rilkans and other inferior races. Skarns expect lesser folk to be awed in their magnificent presence. Incarnate, soulborn, paladin, ranger, and even monk are traditional class choices.
Skarns advennture to advance their social standing. Their sophisticated warrior culture places great value on proof of mettle. When a soulborn skarn returns to his Ward Perfect's headquarters with the tusks of the orc chieftain that had been raiding nearby farms, he is guaranteed to rise in the esteem of both the perfect and his peers.
Other skarns might develop a chaotic bent and find life in the stratified city too restrictive. Neutral or chaotic skarns are happy to join a band of adventurers, finding solace in what is often the first community they have known that does not conform to the rigid rules of skarn society.
Still other skarns adventure as part of the skarns' great racial quest: to find what became of the progenitor race and to complete its work. Most other races, especially rilkans scoff at the idea that the skarns will ever achieve the venerated concept of 'perfection of form." But the skarns believe perfection is possible, and many have taken up their swords and venurated in search of their forebears, their purposes, and their fate.
To play to a skarn character's strengths, literally play to his Strength. Take feats that exploit his natural Strength bonus: Power Attack and Cleave are traditional favorites, but don't forget Improved Grapple, Improved Bull Rush, and Improved Trip. His Dexterity is likely not high, so look to acquire heavy armor and wade into melee. A shield can boost armor class but a skarn might consider wielding a two-handed weapon, which allows him to take further advantage of his Strength Bonus.
Skarn names reflect the race's urbane belligerence. Given names are often polysyllabic while family names are generally monosyllabic. The goal of parents in selecting a child's name is to find one that implies both sophistication and strength. Reflecting the race's social awareness, titles often precede or follow a skarn's name. The high value that the skarns place on art extends to powetry, and skarns are frequently named after heroes from ancient epics.
Male Names: Alekk, Ikkilis, Imre, Morgalle, Mydrinn, Ogava, Rotenh, Stergan, Teruska, Trakkisin, Vinnik, Vorlance.
Female Names: Aci, Adra, Arethe, Chariss, Dyssilka, Mishlyrren, Myrivist, Ormykka, Shallimtan, Shyvrandil, Theliram
Family Names: Arsh, Bas, Dal, Drott, Mak, Mish, Mys, Rus, Tark, Thon, Thull, Wylle
Common Titles: Esh (marks a petty aristocrat), Kourin (crafter), Leshvar (merchant), Uthman (laborer), Kavval (servant).
Roleplaying a SkarnEdit
While it might be tempting to roleplay a skarn as contemptuous of all other races, most skarns avoid such behavior. True, they view themselves as the rightful successors to the mishtai's quest for "perfection of form." But they are painfully aware that they are not perfect yet (for which they blame the rilkans), and their main attitude toward other races is one of indifference. The truth is that the skarn people don't think about the other races much at all, preferring to focus on developing their own minds, bodies, and art. In any case, they consider exceptionally rude or insulting behavior, their own or anyone else's--to be in very poor taste.
Skarns are well-mannered fighters nd aristocrats with fierce but tightly controlled passions. Open display of strong emotion is frowned upon at skarn courts, where a veneer of civility is considered the hallmark of urbanity. Skarns have diverse interests and are very much at ease in a one-on-one discussion. As soon as a third person is introduced, a skarn becomes conscious of the tacit social hierarchy and modified his behavior accordingly.
Roleplaying Application: Always observe the rules of etiquette. Do not sink to the level of the boor by responding in kind; a gauntlet challenge is preferable to a shouting match. Your adventuring companions should be able to count on you for courageous intensity in battle and a sharp rational mind outside of combat. You might not be your adventuring companion's closest friend, but you strive to be the most dependable.
Skarn children spend equal time playing with wooden swords and testing each other at games of mental acuity. The twin ideas of mental and physical perfection carry over into adulthoot. A skarn aristocrat seeks to support these goals through philanthropy; a skarn adventurer seeks to exemplify them directly.
Roleplaying Application: If given time to explore a city, spend the morning with the combat mannequins at the Ward Marshal's sparring hall and the afternoon with the nobility and philosophy books in the seminary library. Skarns pursue multiclass and "hybrid" class careers, since they value both mental and physical development.
Skarns never forget to include a title when addressing a peer or noble. Their speech at social functions is always proper and might strike others as contrived or overly coureous.
Roleplaying Application: Upon meeting someone, always find out the proper way to address the person, including an appropriate title. In an argument, try to play the role of "the voice of reason," speaking calmly but firmly.