Alovas are a peerless people in detecting what others may overlook; in addition to their keen senses of hearing, they have the unique ability to use echolocation, utilizing sound to find what cannot be seen. Through alovas, it was discovered that Chrono, the essence of all magic, actually emits sound, but at frequencies that most others cannot hear. Flying alovas are a common sight as part of advance scouts or explorers into new or potentially dangerous areas, as some can even hear the telltale song of magic long before even the most advanced of equipment or spells could detect it.
- 1 Etymology and Other Names
- 2 Biology
- 3 Sociology
- 4 Racial Traits (D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder)
Etymology and Other Names
The Standard term alova is thought to come from an older Nicta-slio word, alovvi, meaning aloft. The foreign nature of this word is reflected in Poeri, a language most commonly spoken by alovas, where the similar term aloova is used for alovas living away from a traditional alova homeland. On the other hand, an alova still dwelling within their homeland is called biinigher instead, derived from the country of Biinighia.
Native Gerualdian languages often have dramatically different terms for the alovas, likely because the alovas' ability to fly allowed them to travel far abroad throughout Gerualdi long before faster means of travel were invented. As such, they may have settled in a variety of places and integrated with local cultures, where they earned names such as Sriop's ylstymydd or Zorredrian's mardinho, respectively meaning night-children and flutter-mouse. In Lyzots, a variant of the Tasaramar term apakkawag, a word meaning large eared flier, is most commonly used.
Of the races throughout Ealdremen, alovas hold a distinction in being the only mammalian race capable of flight. Their arms are a pair of wings attached to their body by way of a leathery membrane that ends at their hips; in addition to having a free thumb, alovas also have two other digits free of the wing. This gives them the appearance of having three-fingered hands, though in actuality, their hands have five digits. Their remaining two fingers are long and used to support the rest of the wing. This allows them some mobility in their hands, though many alovas instead prefer to use their prehensile feet for holding objects or manipulating machinery. An alova's feet have separate thumbs much like their hands, allowing alovas to use them as such, and they can lock the tendons in their feet. With their tendons locked, an alova can hold onto something without exerting conscious effort, whether it is holding onto a surface or holding an object.
Many alovas have broad, flat faces and wide cheeks; alovas with more pronounced muzzles tend to have thinner faces altogether. They also have a veritable mane of hair on their heads, which sometimes extends to a thick bushy mane around their necks. Their hair tends to be of a similar color to the rest of their body, though the alovas' cultural expressions through their hair typically render their hair much more brightly colored. Alovas are commonly dark-furred and may have bands of different colors such as black, brown, or grey throughout their fur, though alovas who come from lineages of living away from Gerualdi tend to have light fur overall. Non-Gerualdian alovas are typically associated with golden or pale colors.
The large ears of an alova are integral to some of the most unique facets of alova biology. In addition to alova ears being able to angle and swivel to catch sounds, an alova is able to contract different muscles in their ears to tune into different frequencies and augment their other senses with echolocation, which is produced with sharp sounds that only other alovas can hear. Although alovas are capable of seeing and hearing as well as most other races, their echolocation enables them to observe things that others cannot.
Alovas take great pride in their appearance, seeking to represent their own individuality at a first glance. Because of the frequency of echolocation in their societies, alovas tend to shy away from magical alterations and instead favor directly physical changes to their appearance. The most obvious means of expressing their identity comes from how they arrange and style their hair. While the most common changes to an alova's hair come from dye and gel, more reckless alovas might even do something such as set up series of illuminated wires connected to a power supply on their back to give their hair a literal glow. They might do something similar for their wings or paint extravagant designs onto the membrane of their wings. An external observer may regard this as vanity, but alovas perceive this cultural facet as demonstrating one's current place in the world -- not in the sense of hierarchy, but in the sense of their perceived place in their lives and what that means for their identity. Alovas rarely make permanent alterations to their body, preferring the safety of being able to change something when it no longer fits.
In the face of mass production and standardization of technology, alovas are often resistant to using other culture's creations as-is. For as long as the alovas have had wings, they have brought different inventions back to their homeland and modified them to suit their needs. It is considered part of the alova cultural subconscious to never accept something not tailor-made for an alova. In the modern day, this manifests as a resolute determination to innovate and perceiving other cultures, especially neighboring ones, as competition. Unless an alova lives somewhere with a large population of other races, they are unlikely to put much thought into creating something that will be usable by anyone other than an alova. The alovas' emphasis on their old ways manifests in further resistances against globalization, such as staunchly refusing to use their hands when they can use their feet, even though such a gesture might be regarded as strange or even rude by other cultures. In an alova's mind, they should not have to change what is natural to them simply because other races, with their different anatomy, do it another way.
Their ability to hear Chrono gives alovas a unique relationship with magic; while the notion of sound-based magic is not unique to the alovas, alovas that use magic often incorporate sound into their spells more than they do other components. A silenced spell to a typical alova would be seen as a twisted mimicry of proper magic; even alovas that do not cast spells themselves generally know what magic ought to sound like. Their spell incantations are usually not in words, but in sonar frequencies that cannot be heard easily, mimicking the exact natural incantations that Chrono itself makes when thick enough to be a magical aura.
Racial Traits (D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder)
Alovas are a Small race, gaining the benefits and penalties associated with this size category. Alova character may choose either +2 Dexterity and -2 Strength or +2 Wisdom and -2 Intelligence to be applied to their starting statistics. Alovas' small sizes make them physically weaker than other races on average, though that same size also grants them an inherent sense of agility and speed that few can match. Alovas are also naturally perceptive thanks to their keen hearing and natural sound-based sonar, but their ability to "hear" magic often makes them struggle to take to academic approaches to spellcraft.
Sonar Detection (Ex)
An alova's large ears aren't only for show; they can catch soundwaves left behind by magic auras, normally undetectable except by those using spells or technology specifically meant to locate magic. Even without training or use of these specialized tools, most alovas can pick up on if there are potent magic auras nearby. Those especially skilled with their sonar can even identify the creator of the magic aura through unique signatures in the soundwaves.
At will as a swift action, alovas can use Sonar Detection to detect traces of magical auras in the area. They are instantly made aware of the presence or absence of magical auras within 60ft, and they may spend a move action to discern the number of auras nearby, further spending an additional move action to detect the exact strength and location of each aura. An alova receives a +2 racial bonus to any checks made to identify any properties of the magic auras; if the alova notifies other creatures of what they detect, these other creatures also receive a +2 untyped bonus to identify the auras. The bonus provided to other creatures is considered an aid another bonus and does not stack. This effect lasts for one minute per character level.
At character level 5th, the alova may use Sonar Detection to match a magical aura to an individual who casted the spell, rolling a d20+the alova's character level against a DC 15+spell level to locate the unique signatures in the aura. Once these identifiers are found, the alova is able to remember them as easily as they might remember a voice or a face and can match those same signatures to future detected auras, either in an area or surrounding an individual.
- Keywords: Active, at will, extraordinary ability, swift action, move action, senses
Flight (Natural Ability)
The forelimbs of all alovas are connected to the body through a leathery membrane. With their light body weights, alovas find it simple to maintain their preferred form of locomotion. Because of their prehensile feet, alovas can still perform many tasks they might otherwise need their hands for while airborne.
Alovas have a flying speed of 20ft with poor maneuverability. At character level 5, and every 5 character levels thereafter, this fly speed increases by 10 to a maximum of 60ft at 20th level. At level 5, their maneuverability becomes average, and at level 10, their maneuverability becomes good. While flying, an alova can ascend at half speed and descend at double speed. Their flight speed is cut in half if they are wearing medium or heavy armor. While flying, an alova can act normally. They receive a +1 racial bonus to the Fly skill and it is treated as a class skill for them regardless of their class.
- Keywords: Passive, natural ability, movement
Clarity (Natural Ability)
With their large ears, alovas can pick up on sounds that others might overlook or not even hear at all. Even in large, noisy crowds, alovas can focus on a particular sound and identify it with relative ease.
Alovas have a +2 racial bonus to Perception.
- Keywords: Passive, natural ability
Alova Senses (Natural Ability)
Alovas' sonars can assist them in filling out their field of vision when lighting is poor. Though their sonars used in this way are too weak to pick up on creatures that have rendered themselves magically invisible, and their sonars can still be confounded by illusions much as conventional sight can be, alovas can still maneuver easily even in complete darkness by way of their sonars.
Alovas have both Low Light Vision and Dark Vision up to 60ft in either condition and do not take sight-based penalties in such conditions, so long as the subject is in their range. These senses do not allow the alova to see things they normally would not be able to see, such as invisible creatures or illusions.
- Keywords: Passive, natural ability, senses