The Serpentine War taxed all races of Thepa, none more so than the dwarves. It was apparent that more soldiers were needed as the war progressed. Numerous dwarven clans abandoned the safety of the mountains and fought at the heart of the war. Before the dwarven march, the Eluen-cuthpar’s wizard authority used their transformative magic to alter their warrior allies – the same magic that begot the war.
Every warrior reformed amplifying certain characteristics while reducing or removing others. Their noses became bulbous and their teeth more animalistic. Their diminutive stature stretched beyond initial calculations. They doubled in height; arms and legs elongated; muscles bulged. As their hair fell from their bodies, the masters doubted their convictions. These humanoids re-birthed. Their minds altered to match their bodies. A rage overwhelmed them. By the time the arcane powers realized what was happening, it was far too late to stop the transformations.
Yet, their prayers were heard and answered. Capable of physical feats no dwarf could previously perform coupled with the race’s breeding effectiveness, the kel ended up playing an integral role in extending the war. Ultimately, though, the war did end and harshly for the kel.
They were scattered for centuries after the apocalypse, lost and unorganized. Divergent from their former race in mind and form, the kel embraced their ancestor’s military bend – granted it was through a campaign of bloodshed for reasons not so pure. Eventually, the kel were able to settle as a mercenary race with a few rogue factions (the most notable being the sea raiders).
Once fighters, clerics, and wizards as their cousins the dwarves, the kel’s mental and physical alterations influenced a new course of life. The strength and rage built into the race precluded them from following the way of the wizard. They also lost the diligence required to craft weapons rather they embraced the prowess of the fighter class. Clerics remained common but in time lost their influence over the race. They have settled for a revered role that does not involve planning or leading their people. In place of the clerics, a new controlling body rose to lead them – the monk. These “friars” refocused the kel’s fury, allowing the race to retain their lawful quality.
Tallest of the humanoids, kel tower over the other races with an average height of 6 to 7 feet tall – some nearing 8 feet. Kel are stout typically weighing 200 to 350 lbs of muscle. Frail and obese kel are an anomaly since any offspring displaying anemic or lazy traits are culled during childhood if not at birth. Males and females are physically the same other than their reproductive anatomy. In any brawl, a woman is as likely to come out the victor as a man. The average lifespan of a kel is 150-250 years. Although a kel may live to be over 600 years of age, it is unlikely due to his repeated participation in combat and his brutish culture, which values strength over acuity.
Kel skin is thick and tough providing a natural protection against harm. The color of their skin, which is completely hairless, is determined by their environment. Dark brown (reddish hue) kel (kel’ak) live in warmer climates where sun exposure is high and clothing is scantily worn. Their brothers (kel’uk) inhabit mountains and snowy plains. These kel feature bluish gray skin as they are forced to cover their skin to protect themselves with warm clothing. No matter their skin color, kel have adopted the practice of ritualistic tattooing described further below. A kel’s eye color ranges from yellow to red – commonly amber or copper shades.
Personality (lawful evil)
Of all the races, kel are the least empathetic. Stoic yet prideful, their racial shift created a hard and uncaring people. Kel see emotion as weakness. Joy and sadness, hatred and love, kindness and anger only interferes with a person’s purpose.
Many call the kel heartless. Yet this is not entirely true, kel have suppressed emotions that they express in distinct ways. One facet of their demeanor is anger. It builds inside a kel only to exasperate into a cold, dark fury. Still, this intense rage is controlled and focused. Kel do not take out their problems on others. They find the one they feel is responsible and punish him.
Another interesting aspect of the kel’s psyche involves alcohol. Inebriated, they are able to indulge in the emotions they so rarely feel. They are happier and kinder in this fashion, yet they do not enjoy drinking. Their consumption of liquor is limited to mating rituals. Eventually, the morning comes. They forget the previous night’s debaucheries and continue on with their apathetic lives.
Kel life is wholly based upon a warped sense of gold lust. Originally dwarves, they used to appreciate art, blacksmithing, gem-working, etc, but now they simply focus on an overwhelming desire for material things. They are hoarders. They do not even care of the item’s worth. They simply want it. Additionally, if something is discarded and someone else shows interest for the trash, the kel will insist that the item is theirs. They react this way to a fault as they cannot bear letting others have something. Ultimately, disagreements end in a fist fight.
Fight first and talk later is the motto of the kel. Logic does not mend differences; brute strength does. In the eyes of a kel, the winner of a scuffle settles all disputes. Even the loser ends up believing that they were wrong (that is if the loser is a kel).
Kel cling to the ideals of conquest. They do not believe in building. Instead they scout out weak or over-extended civilizations to overthrow. After their initial onslaught, kel thin their captives. Kel are not cruel. They remove the prisoners they do not want and swiftly execute them. Generally, the undesirables are comprised of all males including young children and any females too old to work long hours.
They slaughter and eat nearly any animals found: cattle, horses, domesticated animals, even messenger pigeons. They seemingly have no use for animals, even as mounts. Unable or unwilling to ride animals, they view the act as beneath them. A person should never rely on an animal for movement. Their only exception is owls. Kel are remarkable raptor trainers. They use these birds for scouts and combat companions. Kel are the first race to utilize a mundane form of aerial warfare, albeit a very limited type.
Once their new home has been established, the kel spend an exorbitant amount of time cleaning and repairing it. They are an immaculate people that wish to make their habitat agreeable. The amount of resources put into maintaining infrastructure and buildings is phenomenal. If it wasn’t for the loss of life, many other races might consider the kel a blessing and allow them to overthrow a town for a time as to have it repaired.
Kel prefer to live near woodland hills or mountains. It strangely reminds them of home – most likely because of their dwarven lineage. They exist in small groups known as clans. These clans are composed of 20 to 200 members (though some have been known to reach 1000). Each clan is ruled by a body of monks, typically one monk for every fifty clan members. Clans do not work well together. In fact, rules differ for each group of kel, though most of their laws are eerily similar. Their legislation entails codes of conduct for fighting, thievery, warfare, and mating.
Kel have no mated pairs. Procreation is done through force and only if the clan is in need of children, most often due to war or plague. As such, the life spans of kel appear much shorter than they should, which directly corresponds to their lack of foresight and warring over resources with both themselves and other races. Luckily, the reproductive rate of kel is much greater than that of their cousins the dwarves so repopulation is rarely a problem. It may seem that kel are stupid but this is not the case. They learn from their mistakes, particularly the ecological ones, and some communities are very careful about the number of children they birth.
Another law of the kel is stealing and they are very strict when it comes to acquiring something that is not a “rightful” possession. Conquering a people and taking their things is fine. These material items are the spoils to a noble victory. After all, you cannot steal from a dead person, but taking a free person’s things will invoke a severe punishment. Many clans chop off an offender’s hand for taking an apple while others might execute a clan member.
Of all the qualities that separate the kel from other races, none stands out as much as the decoration of their bodies. Kel priests are schooled in an art of tattooing. They use intricate patterns of alabaster paint to depict statuses or achievements such as reaching adulthood, dispatching prominent enemies, and conquering towns. Kel highly value gypsum and calcite (vital ingredients for their alabaster inks) and will raid mining villages and dwarven shipments to secure these goods.
It would be remiss to describe kel society without mentioning ogres. These creatures are, in actuality, a complication of the magic once used to create the kel. And from time-to-time, spikes of that transformative magic will cause a kel female to birth an ogre. This kills the mother. Outraged, the clan will enslave the abnormal creature forcing it to become a dominated mule animal. Kel hate ogre. If they are unable to subdue a wild ogre (ogres are able to reproduce with one another), they will kill it.
On a whole, other races find difficulty in trading, selling, and buying with kel. Kel are reluctant to give up gold or wealth for any reason let alone in trade (they are unnaturally greedy), yet there are attributes of this race that are useful to certain civilizations. These attributes tend to encompass the race’s love of wealth, brutish nature, and moral apathy.
Kel are not cowards and love to fight. They have no qualms about killing and tend to look at engagements as all or nothing. They will fight to the death in most circumstances. This mentality leads to expendable troops that do not need to be paid.
Arden: Kel love the arden. They utilize these small humanoids as very productive slaves. In a party, a kel has no problem grouping with an arden yet the opposite cannot be said for the smaller race. The scent of a kel will always keep an arden unease even if the kel has proven himself to be a true friend.
Amoraq: Another slave race for the kel, they are strong and hard to anger. Still, clans have learned not to enslave too many of these large humanoids. If one becomes angry the others will follow suit. Many clans have been wiped out by mistakenly housing a large cluster of amoraq.
Drow: Contact between the kel and drow is limitied. Their homelands are far enough apart that neither race treads on the other’s resources. Yet, on rare occasions, drow have been known to raid the surface for kel slaves. Once transported deep underground through narrow passages, the kel lose all hope of escape and reluctantly become obedient captives.
Duergar: Kel hold no love for duergar. They view the duergar as every other race, someone to be conquered and looted. Luckily for the duergar, kel do not understand how to attack a duergar civilization and they do not care to learn. After all, there are many easier targets to consider.
Dwarves: Kel view dwarves as public enemy number one. The two races are constantly butting heads over resources. Additionally, kel do not socially appreciate dwarves. They are loud, dirty, and obnoxious. Kel would sooner dine with an arden than have to listen to a dwarf sing one more stupid song.
Elves: Kel detest elves. Elves steal resources that the kel believe is rightfully theirs so they take every opportunity to attack elves or elven interests. Furthermore, kel know that elves band together, and it is easier to keep the enemy on their toes rather than deal with the march of an elven army.
Fenodyree: A race the kel actually welcome. Clans need an outlet to trade and these small, friendly men are the easiest culture to deal with. Kel never enslave fenodyree. In fact, they suppress their material desires offering gifts to their merchant friends so the two races remain in good graces.
Goblins: Kel view goblins as tools. They are desired for one thing, their innate ability to make things feral, therefore kel tolerate nearby goblin tribes. Yet, if an opportunity presents itself, the kel will attack the goblins and cage them. Goblins do not need to move about freely to be exploited and excess goblins are a delightful addition to the dinner table. Kel love the taste of goblin meat.
Humans: Kel and humans have a manic relationship. Kel can normally find employment as mercenaries with most human civilizations, yet other circles shun the kel, if not kill them outright. Additionally, human expansionism is inevitably hindered by kel clans, which causes hostility. Many times, wars will occur.
Kobolds: Kel find the scent of a kobold to be revolting. They shy away from these humanoids. If a clan encounters a kobold, they will string the lizard-like creature up with a noose in a tree. Kel are not being inhumane, they simply want other kobolds to know that they are not welcome in kel territory.
Nalu: Kel do not have a use for nalu. If a clan finds one, they tend to kill him as the kel believe he will only cause trouble. In human towns, nalu and kel are neutral toward one another.
Sobekites: Kel do not bother sobekites. Searching for a sobekite’s home is extremely difficult. And, even when discovered, the rewards are not worth the trouble. Kel rarely eat fish.
As noted above, there are many reasons why a kel would seek adventure. Obviously, physical fitness plays a role in the decision to join a group. Whether genetically inferior or pass the prime age for battle, unworthy kel are abandoned by their clans, which inevitably leads to the necessity for survival. Because of their war-like nature, many kel clans eventually cease to exist. Survivors search for new homes outside their society since joining a rival clan is considered suicidal. Yet, nothing ranks higher than their overwhelming desire for material things. Most adventuring groups engage in combat with the promise of vast riches once the fighting is over – two ideals held dearly by kel.
Class Preferences: cleric, fighter, monk
Religious Preferences: Adaska, Baiperus, Baris, Eadiac, Ivaidin, Lugial
Racial Traits (PF)
When creating a kel character, a player uses all the base traits presented below; these traits are inherent to the kel and cannot be altered. A player then selects alternate traits to flesh out his kel 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 Intelligence, -2 Charisma: A kel is both strong and educated, but lacks tact.
Medium: A kel is a Medium creature and has no bonuses or penalties due to his size.
Normal Speed: A kel has a base speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: A kel can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Craftsman: A kel gains a +2 racial bonus on all Craft or Profession checks to create or maintain structural objects such as homes, walls, bridges, etc.
Emotionless: A kel gains a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against fear, mind-altering, and despair effects.
Greed: A kel gains a +2 bonus on Appraise checks to determine the price of anything nonmagical.
Kel Ferocity: Once per day, when a kel is reduced to fewer than 0 hit points but he is not killed, he can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled. At the end of his next turn, unless brought to above 0 hit points, he immediately falls unconscious and begins to die.
Languages: A kel begins play speaking Common and Kelian. A kel with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: Dwarven, Elven, Fenodyrean, Giant, Goblin, and Infernal.
Camouflage (1 RP): A kel gains a +4 racial bonus on Stealth checks within an urban area.
Skill Training (1 RP): Heal and Knowledge (engineering) are always considered class skills for a kel.
Weapon Familiarity (1 RP): A kel is proficient with greataxes and falchions.
Bond to the Land (2 RP): A kel gains a +2 dodge bonus to AC when in an urban area.
Gatecrasher (2 RP): A kel gains a +2 racial bonus on Strength checks to break objects and a +2 racial bonus on combat maneuver checks to sunder.
Falconry (4 RP): A kel gains a +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal skill checks and gains a trained owl as a pet at no cost.
Racial Traits (DD)
Ignore the racial traits above and use the Half-Orc statistics in the Player’s Handbook along with these few changes:
Remove Savage Attacks from his racial traits.
Dwarven Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws versus poison, and you have resistance against poison damage (explained in chapter 9, “Combat”).
Aggressive: As a bonus action, a kel can move up to its speed toward a hostile creature that it can see.
Falconry: A kel gains an owl as a companion. Use the Ranger’s Companion ability aside for a few exceptions for all rules explaining the benefits of this owl. The exceptions are that the owl does not gain any of the bonuses of the first paragraph in the Ranger’s Companion section. This pet can, however, communicate to some extent with the kel. The owl can screech to acknowledge dangers that approach, such as animals or other humanoids. It can also lead the kel towards basic necessities such as water or shelter.
Savage Attacks: When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.
First Artwork provided by Sandara
Second and Third Artwork provided by Steve Bellshaw
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