As horrible as it sounds, the Eluen-cuthpar and their research needed to be eradicated from Thepa. Many of the aberrations that plague today’s world are the direct result of their meddling. It is quite possible that the Eluen-cuthpar would have destroyed the universe had they not destroyed the planet they lived upon. What knowledge they hoped to achieve was invariably ruined by the paths taken to reach it.
Among these paths was the creation of the nalu. Humans became part of a test for the “underwater elf”, a goal to expand the elven colonies. It was believed that humans, given their flexible form, would be ideal test subjects for the required infusions of pure elemental water. It worked better than they hoped.
Within one generation, the test subjects had developed amphibious traits, gills and lungs. These first primal nalu became known in the ancient elven tongue as “finned rebirth”. They developed webbed fingers and feet that could quickly be retracted to allow fine manipulation, as well as nictitating membranes, natural camouflage, and an instinctual understanding of underwater physics. In fact, the nalu even lacked the need to remain wet, giving them a distinct advantage over previous experiments performed by the human sect of the Eluen-cuthpar.
Unfortunately, their creators did not anticipate the quickness of their subjects’ evolution, thus their security was not adequately prepared. The nalu took advantage of this fact to liberate themselves. Those nalu that did not escape died trying. They were free but at a cost, adrift in a world without a home and being pursued by a newly-made enemy.
An alliance quickly emerged between the human faction of the Eluen-cuthpar and the nalu. The humans offered the nalu protection from their current adversaries, but in return the nalu were obligated to create a foothold on Khael’vendra. Krulean coveted the elven artifact and would deal with any consequences to gain access to this new power, hence the Pact of the Nalu.
The amoraq never saw their watery demise coming. The battle for Khael’vendra’s beachhead was over before it began. Krulean, if anything, was trustworthy. He held to his word. The nalu were granted amnesty for their part in the War of the Amoraq. The elven contingency of the Eluen-cuthpar regretfully ceased their pursuit of the nalu. Krulean was powerful before acquiring this new tool, but now he became unopposed.
The nalu migrated to the waters surrounding Fenodryn, the ancient city of the future fenodyree, where they set up trade with the humans and elves that lived there. Eventually, Fenodryn fell and its people scattered, but the seas were left relatively peaceful. Most of the forming nalu culture survived. In effect, nalu are the only remaining pre-cataclysm culture in existence. They do not keep written records, yet the oral histories are as accurate as they can possibly be.
Nalu resemble the humans they used to be, if humans were aquatic mammals and not terrestrial ones. They have a height similar to their cousins (about 5 to 6 feet) and a weight of 120 to 220 lbs. Though unlike humans, height differences between genders are negligible. Males are but only a half-an-inch taller than females.
Nalu skin is silvery grey, which is often difficult to see in the depths from afar. Their feet are somewhat flipper-like, which causes the nalu to be awkward on land. Fortunately, their feet are not long enough to force these water dwellers to waddle.
Most notable are nalu eyes. Their corneas and pupils are quite large and exhibit hues of silver, grey, and azure blue. Though, more pressing to observe are the nictitating membranes that all nalu possess, often quite startling to those unfamiliar with this race.
Nalu hair color is blue or grey with the occasional black (considered highly attractive in nalu culture). It is typically worn as a long braid while at home or in social settings. The hair is as unsuited to underwater life as having an ineffective fifth limb, but the style is deliberate. Nalu wish to show they were originally land-dwellers and have not forgotten their heritage.
An important side note that will be expounded upon in the section about society is that the transformation from their human ancestors to the nalu is still quite unstable. Nalu suffer from infrequent mutations from birth that tip the scale from amphibian-mammals to primarily water-breathing creatures that must hold their breath to go above the surface. These creatures are known as the malenti.
Malenti look like sleeker nalu with noticeable gills running down their backs. Most of them have patches of scales and prominent canines. A few of these distorted beasts sport a pair of fish tails instead of legs, true aberrations of the nalu race.
Nalu nature is similar to their human ancestry. They have the same alignment and personality variances, yet they do have their differences. Nalu mutations are primarily based on underwater survival more than anything. Furthermore, nalu values are not as comprehensive, partially because their culture has remained remarkably stable over the eons, more than any homogeneity on their part.
These distinctions lead to a significantly boring race. Not dull, but calm and polite, due to their affectations. Nalu rely on trade, so it is important to have a respectful name. Without surface commerce, the enchanted rust-proof metals nalu have learned to depend upon would be very difficult to acquire. Nalu also behave respectfully toward one another out of necessity. Living in the same village of 20-200 people brings people together.
Nalu are known for being painfully devoted to the concept of fairness. They frequently short themselves in dealings in order to gain future business. This belief extends to their idea of personal favors. Nalu do not believe in charity as humans understand it, rather doing something nice incurs a debt. A complete lack of obligations is something the fish-folk find very strange. Everyone is bound in some way or another, and nalu become insistent on repaying any charity shown to them, whether true or perceived.
Nalu are not bland or emotionless. They do have their passions, which tend to appear in fits and starts as they briefly become obsessed with whatever strikes their fancy. Nalu are bingers out of the water. Drink, women, food, you name it, the nalu engulf their vices. And as with every bender, it ends, only to be struck up again at a later date.
Of course, as much as they hate to admit it, the discussion of nalu personalities is not complete without commenting on the malenti. They are a feral species of nalu whose mentality resemble that of a shark. While they are not cold sociopaths or even solitary, these mutants are largely focused upon survival and their next meal. Most feel loyal to their nalu relatives, but all deeply resent the fact that the open air is closed off to them.
Beyond their ideas of debts and obligation, nalu are actually a fairly democratic people. Once a year each settlement elects a chieftain that organizes the village’s civil policies, trade agreements, and defenses. In any other civilization this power would be ripe for abuse, but a nalu chieftain is required to undertake a vow of poverty and isolation, separate from even his family. This ruler is only allowed interaction with other nalu to discuss matters of state.
At the end of his term the settlement votes on the quality of service for the preceding year. If the community is happy with his reign, the leader is allowed to drop his vows and return to his family and tribe as a respected elder and advisor to his successors. A negative reaction means the chief can look forward to another year of isolated servitude with the same hardships as previously mentioned.
Most surface dwellers imagine nalu settlements as strange underwater metropolises, teeming with thousands of inhabitants. This impression, invariably, could not be further from the truth. Things lurk in the depths of the oceans, wicked things that exist beyond the coral reefs inhabited by the nalu. An average village consists of no more than 200 individuals in “huts” that are built for easy mobility. Nalu build homes with escape in mind for the water is never safe, and one must be ready at a moment’s notice to flee.
A few larger nalu settlements and proper cities do exist, yet a near-perfect combination of abundant resources and a defensible lair is required to maintain such a stronghold. In fact, one of the largest nalu settlements Jaquith (approximately 2,000 in population, a far cry from human perception) rests near a semi-active undersea volcano. This unique volcano produces lava that contains adamantite, a very rare metal.
Adamantite can only be formed by a meteor crashing into a body of saltwater, and, in most cases, it is very difficult to extract. Fortunately for the nalu, a collision did occur with this volcano, which allows the adamantite to be extracted quite easily, though at a very slow pace. The resource pours out of the volcano in small amounts. Adamantite is not the only valuable thing in depths, exotic corals, alabaster pearls, rare fishes, even the occasional shipwreck are profitable.
Nalu spend a lot of time with humans and have been known to grow very close, intimate, with their trade partners. Mating with other races has a peculiar effect associated with it, a same-gender rule. All children of a nalu parent have the same race as the parent whose gender is the same as the child’s. For example, if a male nalu and a female human have children, all male children will be nalu, while all female children will be human. This phenomenon is not exclusive to humans-nalu copulation. Nalu children of any race experience the same ordering.
Malenti, on the other hand, are born from two nalu parents, but their conception is rare, about 2%. The odd thing about malenti is that they are much stronger than their nalu forebears. They are, in effect, superior to nalu, the ideal warriors capable of complex tactics and disciplines. The crux of the malenti is their relentless need for survival, which is always in the forefront of their minds like a drone’s desire to save his queen.
Nalu tribes generally have three reactions to malenti. The first is to ignore them until they are needed to drive off sea beasts, at which point they are regarded as heroes. This attitude is the most frequent. A distant second are the few nalu villages that have ready access to abundant crops and fishes, often revering the malenti as living spirits of protection and war. An even smaller number barely tolerates them, viewing the malenti as degenerate and depraved offshoots that should not exist.
This last opinion has resulted in the creation of the mutantspawn. The two most infamous transformations are the sahuagin and skum. The sahuagin were born from the first malenti who initially escaped from the Eluen-cuthpar. Exiled malenti used druidic and clerical magic to transform themselves into the “kings” of the deep. They embraced their link to sharks and learned how to control their mutations using their faith in the daevas.
The skum are a bit different. They are a race descended from an all-male group of malenti unable to propagate females for their society. In lieu of family units, skum abduct females of other races and imprison them to further the skum line. It is believed that aboleths are responsible for the existence of the skum. Many claim that the aboleths created the skum and intentionally made them a single gender to cement control over these fearsome mutations.
If it has to do with the sea, it has to do with the nalu. The race has widely disseminated throughout the years, lacking not in numbers. They are an established race. Nalu have become this way by brokering deals with land-dwellers that wish to travel the seas. By helping explorers find new bays to settle, the nalu are able to protect the underwater villages that need to divide. It is safer traveling with ships than the undersea. Besides, it only makes sense to open new markets whenever possible. Nalu are a race of traders, after all.
Nalu are regarded as exotic merchants, fey travelers, mercenary sailors, or some combination of the above. Rarely, they are known as pirates, the crafty raiders that capsize sea-going vessels to seek out dry supplies; but sometimes, a few settlements do get that desperate or angry at the shore-stompers. Nalu also have a reputation for being annoying and persistent when indulging in a vice or a fancy on the surface. They are fully aware that sound doesn’t travel very far on land and definitely not to sea monsters, thus they feel they can be as loud as they wish. Even so, most races tolerate the nalu as they provide the greatest access to the treasures of the seas.
One of the things nalu do not advertise is their paranoia. Nalu settlements are constantly in danger of being destroyed, whether by mutantspawns, aboleths, or natural disasters. They know their world very well, and their perpetual war has made them extremely pragmatic about enemies. If a nalu regards you as a foe, not just a rival, they will do everything in their power to eliminate you as a threat, ranging from straight out murder to subtle campaigns of economic sabotage. This behavior has caused the nalu to be regarded as untrustworthy by races other than humans and fenodyree.
Arden: Arden form warrens in landlocked areas, which has limited contact with the nalu. Nevertheless, the aquatic humanoids have formed some general opinions about the scavenging race, mainly through human impressions. When the two races do encounter each other, the nalu tend to treat the arden as untrustworthy but otherwise non-aggressive.
Amoraq: Nalu despise amoraq for several reasons. Early on, the nalu were forced to ally with the Eluen-cuthpar. And while the nalu intellectually know that the amoraq were also victims, they have not forgotten the savage War of the Amoraq. Those brutal exchanges have carved deep wounds into nalu memory and are not easily forgotten.
Drow: Given their status as fellow Eluen-cuthpar victims and their inability to raid nalu settlements, drow are regarded with a degree of pity. The nalu suffer an odd tendency toward mutation and relative ungainliness on land. On the other hand, drow cannot move beyond the past – a magically enforced cycle of abuse. The fact that drow merely kill nalu or avoid them altogether otherwise helps this unusually sympathetic viewpoint.
Duergar: It’s rare for nalu to distinguish the differences between dwarves and duergar. Most actually believe duergar are a subculture of the former. To their defense, nalu don’t have many opportunities to clear their confusion, given the mutual distance of habitats. The duergar that do happen to live near nalu colonies often become close trading partners for the fact that rust-proofing magic is a specialty of the deep dwarves.
Dwarves: Nalu are unlikely to interact with dwarves because their homes in the hills and mountains are far from the seas. Yet the occasional dwarf will travel through human settlements, enough so that the nalu at least know what one looks like. Nalu are fond of dwarven smithy work. It just so happens that their products are purchased secondhand from humans.
Elves: Nalu are uncertain about elves. On one hand, they are responsible for the experiments performed on nalu ancestors; and to this day, the fish folk see elven whims as rather haughty and manipulative, especially toward nature. On the other hand, the prior arcane manipulations appear to have been benevolent. And since elves do not appear inhumane, at least in modern times, nalu conscience has causes an internal conflict of ambivalence, which results in a general policy to simply overlook elves.
Fenodyree: Nalu and halflings are allies and have been since before the fenodyree became a modern race. They have only grown closer in time due both to their personalities and to their traditional cycle of trade. Nalu enjoy fenodyrean storytelling, and will often serve as a ship’s escort for little pay. In many situations, especially during a migration, nalu will seek out ships to protect. The vessels provide excellent defense against sea monsters. It is even possible for nalu to sleep on the ships away from the hunting grounds, a short but welcome mental break from their long lives of vigilance.
Goblins: While nalu have heard of The Rise, it simply doesn’t affect the seabed as disastrously as the surface. If anything, nalu are grateful for the extra coral, larger fish, and abundant kelp forests. Nalu, generally, ignore goblins. They do not interact enough with one another to form a meaningful relationship. Yet with that being said, a goblin’s curiosity can be a wonderful trait when trading curios to the surface-dwellers.
Humans: Psychologically, nalu view themselves no different than their ancestors. They feel the real change is to their culture, a result of environment rather than blood. Nalu build villages within trading distance of human settlements, viewing both races as a symbiotic civilization. Nalu really only see one different aspect between their races, and it fascinates them. By neccessity, nalu are children of the waves, bonded to the water, yet humans have an inherent link to all of the elements. Nalu stand in awe at this flexibility in their counterparts.
Kobolds: Nalu enjoy dealing with kobolds. The aquatic race has very little of value and what has no worth is rarely stolen. Kobolds’ also have a knack to create products that nalu covet, protective devices. With a little magic, they function just as well underwater as above. Kobolds are even capable of designing these decisive traps with materials from below the surface, coral and bone being the most common.
Kel: While amoraq are largely disliked by nalu, kel will actively scare them. Kelian aggressive militarism reminds the nalu of deeper, darker underwater threats, specifically the hordes of sahuagin. Kel, also, have a tendency to exterminate the fish folk wherever they are found. Worse, kel do not seem to have a motive for this slaughter. At least the sahuagin can provide a reasonable grudge against their forebears.
Sobekites: It’s said that misery loves company. That idiom does not normally apply to friendships, though shared pain can be an excellent jumping point for one. In the case of nalu and sobekites, both understand what it means to have been transformed against one’s will. They are also in the same boat socially, given their insular natures. Therefore, they tend to strike up pleasant relationships, especially when it comes to mutual defense.
Nalu professional adventurers tend to fall into three distinct categories: the scout, the survivor, and the exile. Scouts are trained for protracted missions over the land to seek potential settlements and threats. Enemies exist both in water and on land (ex. kel).
Nalu sea beds exists in relatively shallow areas (about two miles deep). They prefer to build their villages in the safest of areas, which means closer to land. Long-term exploration by more than one nalu is simply too dangerous to be practical. The village needs to keep most of its members near home to help defend it.
While joining a party of mixed races is not required, most sane nalu choose to because their familiarity with dry land is limited. Continental geography is difficult to navigate when you are use to three dimensional movement, thus it is prudent to include at least one land-dweller as a navigator, often a sobekite or human.
In other situations, nalu evacuations may go awry – an escape plan is flawed in some fashion or the villagers are simply caught off guard. The vast majority of these surprised nalu are exterminated or enslaved, but occasionally a survivor or a group thereof manages to escape.
Those that are not caught are given over to vengeance for the loss of their home. A threat capable of evading nalu warning systems is obviously a danger that has not been neutralized. As a result, an event of this caliber becomes something of a moral duty for its survivors. Affected nalu are compelled to find as many settlements as possible and bring news of this new peril.
All civilizations have an outlier, a person whose personality simply does not flow with the common way of life. The constant threat of invasion is hard on some nalu. They are unable to embrace the stoicism that the rest of their kind seem to thrive upon.
These afflicted nalu can be disastrous to a tribe’s existence, so the elders strongly encourage the “troublesome” members to emigrate to the surface. Surprisingly, these exiles are not bitter about their situation. The fact that their culture does not force complete severance from their homeland has probably helped with acceptance of becoming a land-dweller. An exile may visit his tribe whenever he is inclined to do so.
Class Preferences: druid, fighter, ranger
Religious Preferences: Adaska, Baiperus, Iteff, Lugial, Vazuet, Xurialu
Racial Traits (PF)
When creating a nalu character, a player uses all the base traits presented below; these traits are inherent to the nalu and cannot be altered. A player then selects alternate traits to flesh out his nalu character. The total number of alternative traits may not exceed 4 racial points (RP). Each alternative trait has its RP cost listed after its name.
+2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Dexterity: A nalu is both strong and wise, but lacks agility.
Medium: A nalu is a Medium creature and has no bonuses or penalties due to his size.
Slow Speed: A nalu has a base speed of 20 feet, but his speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
Swim: A nalu has a swim speed of 30 feet and gains a +8 racial bonus on Swim checks.
Amphibious: A nalu is amphibious and can breathe both air and water.
Deepsight: A nalu can see in the dark up to 120 feet while underwater, but does not gain this benefit out of water.
Craftsman: A nalu gains a +2 racial bonus on all Craft or Profession checks to create objects from plant or stone.
Energy Resistance: A nalu has resistance 5 cold.
Skill Training: Stealth and Swim are always considered class skills for a nalu.
Languages: A nalu begins play speaking Aquan. A nalu with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: Common, Draconic, Fenodryean, and Kelian.
Camouflage (1 RP): A nalu gains a +4 racial bonus on Stealth checks within water.
Defensive Training (1 RP): A nalu gets a +4 dodge bonus to AC against aboleths.
Hatred (1 RP): A nalu receives a +1 bonus on attack rolls against sahuagin and skum subtypes due to special training against these hated foes.
Weapon Familiarity (1 RP): A nalu is proficient with nets and tridents.
Hydrated Vitality (3 RP): A nalu gains fast healing 2 for 1 round anytime he submerges completely within a body of natural salt water, fresh water, or brackish water. Stagnant, poisoned, or trapped water (such as water within an artificial pit or a bag of holding) does not activate this ability. A nalu can heal up to 2 hit points per level per day with this ability, after which it ceases to function.
Curiosity (4 RP): A nalu is naturally inquisitive about the world around him. He gains a +4 bonus on Diplomacy checks to gather information, and Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (local) become class skills for him. If he chooses a class that has either of these Knowledge skills as class skills, he gains a +2 racial bonus on those skills instead.
Racial Traits (DD)
Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1, and your Wisdom score increases by 2.
Size: Your size is Medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 20 feet.
Swim: Your swimming speed is 30 feet.
Superior Darkvision: Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.
Amphibious: The nalu can breathe air and water.
Inquisitive: You are always paying attention to the things around you, trying to constantly learn new things. You gain advantage to Wisdom (Insight) checks.
Sunlight Sensitivity: You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target or your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.
Weapon Familiarity: You gain proficiency with the trident and the net.
Artwork provided by Sandara
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