Darkrunner

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Proud inheritors of a monarchist legacy, darkrunners have held onto their vibrant traditions for generations. They live in large groups where they cultivate complicated societies of interweaving hierarchies and relationships. Some may say their desire for a community is a survival instinct, for darkrunners have warred with the ligvoels for generations over who should rightly own their shared homeland of Kyrol. A lone darkrunner will be picked off, but a group that cares for its members will stand against any tribulation and come out stronger for it.

Etymology and Other Names

The name darkrunner comes from a translation of an old Scheli-dren phrase meaning, "I walk in the darkness for you," eldin fee feldt icht'ariaachruer. It is an oath of loyalty that the darkrunners were thought to have spoken at ancient summits and encounters with other cultures, but incomplete translations and misunderstandings of the phrase interpreted it as a symbol of racial identity. The term has been recursively brought back into darkrunner languages, where they call themselves after a derivative of the original phrase, ariruer.

Other languages in Ealdremen will use a variant of the name darkrunner, such as Zorredrian calling darkrunners venhidaromabraos, or "shadow-stepping people".

Biology

Darkrunners usually have a horizontal or sloped natural gait, as exemplified here by Hjördís Ermentrud.

Unlike most bipedal races in Ealdremen, darkrunners have something of a "horizontal" natural stance and gait. Even with their heads held high, the tips of their rigid, ummoving tails are often at the same altitude or close to it depending on the length of the darkrunner's neck. Darkrunners that grew up in areas where they are the minority may tip their bodies back to make their tails closer to the ground and give themselves a stance more similar to their non-darkrunner peers. This behavior can make them seem larger as well; with their horizontal stance, a darkrunner may seem shorter. Their lower stance does not impede their ability to see around them, however, as darkrunners have greatly flexible necks that can allow them to turn their heads almost entirely around without moving the rest of their body. This flexibility does not extend to their arms, as darkrunners have limited mobility in their wrists.

A typical darkrunner will be covered in feathers that are especially long on their arms and the ends of their tails. Their feet and hands will typically be featherless, as are their mouths, though the exact place where the feather growth ends varies by individual. Some darkrunners will have all but their clawed digits covered in feathers, whereas others will see their feather growth end entirely on the side of their arm where their long pinion feathers do not grow. Darkrunner skin is leathery and rough to the touch, and they have a long scythe-like toe on the inner part of their feet. This toe is often an indicator of a darkrunner's mood, rising and falling or clicking against the ground. The other primary sign of a darkrunner's emotions is the feathered crest atop their head. This crest flares when the darkrunner is excited or energized in some way, and it deflates and falls against their head when despondent or low-energy.

Darkrunners' plumage can vary greatly in color, ranging from mostly solid colors to spots and mottled patterns across their backs and undersides. The pinion feathers of a darkrunner can also bear patterns not seen anywhere else on the darkrunner's body, as can the crest. Their crests are almost always distinctively colored from the rest of their body color, and bright colors are both most common and most desirable. A darkrunner's skin is often dull in color, though some might have bright yellow or a light shade of brown that stands out against their feathers.

Sociology

From a young age, darkrunners are taught to be kind to those around them and forge relationships that they can call upon in times of need. A proper darkrunner relationship of any sort is governed by social distance and mutual respect, and all involved parties must be aware of both factors for foster even a casual friendship. Darkrunner society is tiered and full of hierarchies upon hierarchies; a given tier of status will have sub-tiers and complicated systems determining who is above somebody else, often through a network of social connections in addition to the darkrunner's own standing in society at large. At the highest level of a darkrunner's society is their queen, who maintains her social status both through lineage and properly forming relationships with her people; it is especially common for the darkrunner queen to have multiple spouses formed from non-nobility as an extension of her duties to keeping herself part of her community rather than above it. Smaller darkrunner groups may not have a queen in name, but there will often be a central figure that all others look to for guidance and order.

It is typical for darkrunners, such as Treicher Skalraut, to be deferential and loyal to those they serve, such as their queen.

Among darkrunners, someone of a higher status is meant to keep control of a situation and take responsibility for any potential dangers that arise; for example, a workplace's supervisor would be equally responsible for evacuating their subordinates in a fire and preventing workplace conflicts and disputes. A lower status darkrunner's responsibilities more trend towards keeping group unity and conveying the desires of the superior. Even in conversation, darkrunner-native languages will reinforce social distance by use of specific pronouns and other language. Though this gives darkrunners strong group ties and a powerful sense of local identity, it also means they can be mistrusting of outsiders until they have proven themselves part of the darkrunner's group. Someone who violates their responsibilities based on their status, such as failing to obey an appropriate order or failing to maintain situation control, can also lose the necessary mutual respect and consequently lose their status, whereas someone who rises above their status appropriately can naturally accumulate local prestige and status.

It is considered normal for a darkrunner to exert their natural power over others in socially appropriate ways; a superior requesting a subordinate perform a mundane task is part of a society. Their mindset is that if this power is properly given and there is mutual respect, it is unlikely for power to be abused. Power that is given can also be taken away; even the queen is subjected to the laws of the people. At the same time, a darkrunner should naturally want to be in control and not have to follow orders for too long; they should eventually want to be the one giving orders, even if they might be comfortable for a time following commands because of their respect for their superior. This belief in trusting authority while also seeking to surpass it manifests in smaller family units as well, where darkrunner children are expected to respect their parents until they naturally seek to leave and rise above their parents in status and social power.

Racial Traits (D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder)

Overview

Darkrunners are a Medium race and have no penalties or bonuses associated with their size. Darkrunner characters may choose either +2 Wisdom and -2 Charisma or +2 Dexterity and -2 Constitution to be applied to their starting statistics. Darkrunners rely on intuition and perception in their socialization, which can come across as eerily fixated on details or even unnervingly unsocial to other races; they have light bones in spite of their rather large bodies, making them dextrous and lithe but also physically fragile.

War Sight (Ex)

Flavor

When in danger, darkrunners can tap into an innate hunter's sense and fall into a controlled trance. While in this heightened state of awareness, the darkrunner can ensure they won't be surrounded and overwhelmed by enemies, and they can may even find themselves granted superior insight than they normally would have.

Mechanics

Once per encounter as an immediate action, the darkrunner can grant themselves War Sight. While under the effects of War Sight, the darkrunner gains a +4 Dodge bonus to AC and cannot be flanked by enemies or subjected to precision-based damage such as sneak attack. This effect lasts for 1d4+1 rounds.

Keywords: Active, immediate action, encounter, extraordinary ability

Queen's Citizen (Natural Ability)

Flavor

Darkrunner society is hierarchal and relies on every individual knowing their place and knowing when it is appropriate to expand their social power. As such, even in their day-to-day lives, they tend to absorb by proxy who is in charge of what aspect of a community, and they may even deliberately seek out such information wherever they go to know their hierarchal status in this new place.

Mechanics

Darkrunners have a +2 racial bonus to Knowledge (Nobility).

Keywords: Passive, natural ability

Bird's Eye (Natural Ability)

Flavor

The keen eyes of a darkrunner are one of their greatest assets in detecting everything from tiny changes in body language to impending danger. Their large eyes relative to the rest of their head allow them to see more in greater detail than many other races.

Mechanics

Darkrunners have a +2 racial bonus to Perception.

Keywords: Passive, natural ability

Darkrunner Senses (Natural Ability)

Mechanics

Darkrunners have the scent ability out to 30ft. This range increases by 5ft every 5 character levels that the darkrunner possesses, up to a maximum range of 60ft at character level 20. When the subject of the scent is upwind, the range of detection is cut in half, rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5. When the subject of the scent is downwind, the range of detection is doubled. When a darkrunner locates a scent, the exact location is not revealed, only its presence within range. The darkrunner may take a move action to detect the direction of the scent. When the darkrunner is within 5ft of the subject of the scent, its exact location is revealed.

A darkrunner can make a Survival check (or Wisdom check) to follow a trail by scent.

Keywords: Passive, active, move action, natural ability