Keepers of history and battle alike, the suljakko race has historically been prominent both in archives and at the forefronts of major wars. They hold lineage and tradition in high esteem, passing down family names that have remained unchanged since the days of the First Galactic War thousands of years in the past. Their emphasis on tradition is thought to be a component in their continued presence on battlefields, as their ages-old affiliation with the Alamo Empire has pushed them to bring honor to their family names through the highest of sacrifices.
Etymology and Other Names
The name suljakko is from Alamin, and it literally means "north-person" in reference to the suljakkos' ancestral homeland of Kes Joshawk being north of the rakkos that originally spoke Alamin. The widespread nature of Alamin by virtue of becoming the common tongue of the Alamo Empire resulted in the name suljakko displacing even fellow Raljikkan languages' terms for the suljakkos. Ealdremen languages most often use a variant of suljakko modified to fit the language, such as Nicta-slio's suliacco or Morish's soljako.
Suljakkos can be broadly divided into two varieties: kjón and taljón, which refer to the traits present in the suljakko's upper or lower half. Kjón have broad beaks that curve downwards at the tip; excluding their beak, they generally have somewhat oval-shaped heads, at the top of which they have a set of pointed ears. Their eyes are altogether small relative to the rest of their face, unlike their taljón kin who have wider eyes with slit pupils. Taljón's faces are much broader with more of a square shape to them, their muzzles elongated and generally dotted with whiskers. The ears of a taljón suljakko are often more rounded or squared, though pointed ears are not unheard of, and it is common for taljón to have thick manes.
The other limbs of a suljakko are dependent on what variety they are; kjón have hands that are without fur or feathers, revealing the generally yellow, brown, or black rough skin. Their lower legs give them the appearance of standing on their wide toes that end in sharp claws. Typically, a kjón will have a long and flexible tail with thin fur covering it. For a taljón, these traits are reversed; their legs will taper towards featherless talons, and their hands will be broad paws. While some taljón will have the same sort of tail a kjón has, others will have a cluster of feathers or no tail at all. In either variety of suljakko, the blend of fur and feathers is typically seamless. They will usually have the same coloration and pattern throughout their body.
Despite the difference in their faces, most suljakko share the same distinctive silhouette. They have naturally broad shoulders that follow a tapered line towards their waist, giving most suljakkos a distinct triangular shape to their bodies. It is common for them to stand above other races, particularly with a natural stance that tends to accentuate their broad frames. Their bones are lighter than other races of their size, however, and it is often difficult for them to store body fat. As a result, they weigh much less than their towering sizes would indicate, especially when compared to the neighboring rakkos.
Few others can claim a vested interest in geneaology and lineage more fervent than suljakko society. In addition to mapping out their relatives as far back as thousands of years, suljakkos may have some superstitious beliefs about genes and other internal components of the body, such as blood type, and how they influence personality or one's future. Some families may take pride in specific genetic sequences as something precious like the family name. In more extreme circumstances, a family member who is markedly different in behavior than the rest of their family might be suspected of being a bastard child, or inheritance might be determined by the presence or absence of specific genomes, as that individual is the purest genetic expression of the family lineage. Arranged marriages, in addition to conventional lineage and status concerns, could require genetic testing to prevent the bloodlines from becoming diluted by unwanted genes, especially if they might be dominant over a favored gene. Even among self-selected marriages, genetic testing to determine underlying compatibility is strongly advised among suljakkos.
Because of the reverence of the family unit, suljakkos tend to live close to their family and will prioritize keeping everything from possessions to orphaned children within the family somehow. Their homes will often be large enough to accommodate as many relatives as possible, even just for temporary family gatherings. Couples that cannot have children likely raise their biological nieces or nephews, or they otherwise will have some sort of biological relation to the child such as through surrogate pregnancy. In the case of adoption, suljakkos will often perform genetic tests and geneaology checks on both the prospective parents and the child to match the child to someone as closely related as possible, even if that relation is extremely small or goes back so many generations in the past that it is no longer relevant biologically. In these cases, the adoption is framed as reclaiming a lost part of the family line. The highest praise from a suljakko is often familial in nature; from a suljakko, being considered "like family" is an oath of loyalty unlike any other.
There is a great emphasis among typical suljakkos to raise one's family above its current station and uphold its honor. Self-interest and family interest ought to be one and the same, as when an individual brings prestige to their family, the family reveres the individual in turn. The means of bringing honor to one's lineage can vary, especially depending on a family's social status. Traditionally, suljakkos enter into military service to prove their discipline and ascend the ranks in a clear and obvious manner; it is thought that military traditions of referring to soldiers by their surnames originated from traditional suljakko society to emphasize how one's behavior reflects on their family. Even among relatives or close friends, if a situation is socially delicate, suljakkos may refer to one another by last name, especially if they see another's behavior as out of line. It is also typical for a suljakko to only go by their surname until others are invited on a personal basis to call them by their first name; a suljakko being reluctant to share their surname or going by their first name even among strangers is likely one that has something to hide.
Racial Traits (D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder)
Suljakkos are a Medium race and have no penalties or bonuses associated with their size. Suljakko characters may choose either +2 Strength and -2 Constitution or +2 Intelligence and -2 Wisdom to be applied to their starting attributes. This represents how bodily strength and education are equally valued in suljakko society, but this can result in suljakkos pushing themselves well past their limits at the expense of their health or how their intelligence can make them arrogantly overlook things around them.
From their Ancestral Legacy, a suljakko may draw on their most distant family lineage to call forth greater power. Depending on the old house their family is originally descended from, a suljakko gains one of the following abilities to use once per day:
- Cresting Winter: This family comes from a line of keen-minded tacticians; like the breath of winter, they were unyielding as they directed their troops to their certain deaths. As a swift action once per encounter, the suljakko may issue a rallying cry that grants themselves and all allies within 30ft an additional 10ft of movement speed as a morale bonus for 1d4 rounds. This ability does not affect movement speeds such as climbing, burrowing, swimming, or flying.
- Hallowed Spring: This family comes from a line of secluded hermits; like the renewal of spring, they sought peace and rebirth for their minds and bodies. As an immediate action once per encounter, the suljakko may use their meditative insight to reroll a single d20 roll made by an adjacent ally (not the suljakko themselves) before the results of the roll are revealed. The ally must take the results of this second roll, even if it is worse, and this reroll may not be rerolled by any other abilities, spells, or other features granting rerolls.
- Fled Summer: This family comes from a line of saboteurs; like the sun creates shadows, so did they cast darkness upon anyone in their way. As an immediate action once per encounter, the suljakko may use their sabotage to undermine an adjacent enemy and force them to reroll a single d20 roll before the results of the roll are revealed. The enemy must take the results of this second roll, and this reroll may not be rerolled by any other abilities, spells, or other features granting rerolls.
- Dead Autumn: This family comes from a line of loyal soldiers; like leaves in autumn, they fell in great numbers for what they believed in. As an immediate action once per encounter, the suljakko may sacrifice a number of hit points up to their character level to receive half that value (rounded down) as a morale bonus on their next attack roll or saving throw, to a maximum of +10 at character level 20.
Per the GM's discretion, additional lineages and powers may be available for selection.
Suljakkos gain +2 Knowledge (History) from their Chronicler racial ability, and they have +1 Reflex from their Swift Reflexes.