5e Races: The Dar

Dx0805ex_DarfellanDar 

Once, dar villages could be found along every coastline and on every island. While they rarely ventured inland, they were one with the sea, and were widely respected as friends to travelers. While they made peace when they could, when they were pressed to war they responded with a mighty ferocity. Dar warrior poets were legendary defenders of sailors and the sea, until the dar found itself caught between two implacable enemies.

Hated by the Hidden Masters 

The dar first made enemies of the aboleths, who they call “foulers of the deep,” long ago. In many ways, the aboleths were the perfect foil for the dar: where the dar are forthright and brave, the aboleths are hidden manipulators. Once the dar became aware of the aboleths plans, they turned their considerable might towards stopping them at every turn. Few other races are as well-equipped to fight the aboleths as the dar, between their affinity for the sea and their innate mental defenses. As the conflict between them raged on, the aboleths turned more and more of their attention to exterminating the dar.

At War with the Sea-Devils

While the aboleths began hunting the dar in earnest, the seafarers began fighting a war on another front: the sahuagin. For as long as their mutual histories record, the dar and the sahuagin have fought over territory and hunting rights. These conflicts were minor and local, but as humans and other races began taking to sea in greater numbers, the sahuagin began to more aggressively defend their territories. When the other races proved too organized and numerous to drive off, the sahuagin turned their rage on their old enemies, and began an organized program of wiping out the dar.

Hunted to Extinction

The past century has not been kind to the dar. Between the machinations of the aboleths and the depredations of the sahuagin, every coastal dar community has been destroyed. Some may exist inland, on great lakes, but the traditional hunting grounds of the dar have been taken over by their enemies. Today, the few dar that remain are nomads, spending their lives on ships or living in other races’ cities and making themselves as useful as they can. The poet-warriors of the dar speak of a day when their race will unite to drive away the sea-devils and crush the foulers of the deep, but no one knows when, or if, that day will ever come.

Darfellan Names

Like the rest of the darfelon language, dar names are polysyllabic, consisting of hard consonants and long vowels interspersed with clicks. Dar often use shorthand names for themselves and others, based on a person’s job or defining feature. In darfelon, dar names convey large amount of information, including a dar’s birthplace, family connections, caste, tribe, and so on. To outsiders, the names simply sound musical. Male and female names are identical, except for the click sound at the end of the name: a high click for a male name and a low click for a female name. Dar custom includes these clicks only when the speaker is not present.

Dar names: Ak’inrinade-ch’ku, Debare!jajaiye, Ginika’kine, Tiwaray’wadunni.

darfellan2Dar Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength increases by 2, and either your Wisdom or Charisma score increases by 1.

Age. Dar are always born in the water and begin swimming immediately. Under normal circumstances, a healthy dar can live upwards of 200 years, and some isolated communities have elders far older.

Alignment. Dar are almost always partially good in alignment. Evil dar are rare, but delight in cruelty. Many are lawful, although more chaotic dar appear every year as their society scatters.

Size. Dar are tall and muscular, standing over 6 feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds. Your size is medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Your base swimming speed is 35 feet.

Darkvision. To hunt in the ocean’s depths, you have developed the ability to see in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as it if were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern most colors in darkness, only shades of blue and gray.

Born Swimmer. You have advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks related to swimming.

Dar Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the trident and the net.

Echolocation. As long as you are underwater and not deafened, you have blindsense to 20 feet.

Hold Breath. You can hold your breath for 1 hour.

Slippery Mind. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed. In addition, creatures can only communicate with you telepathically if you allow it.

Languages. You can speak, read and write Aquan, Common, and Darfelon. The dar heroes were warrior poets and musicians. No dar did just one thing: every soldier knew how to play an instrument, and every musician could fight. The great epics of the dar are all about those who powerfully blended the two. Their art was impermanent: vast mandalas on beaches that disappeared with the tide. Since the scattering of the tribes, the dar have learned to use the music and art of the cultures they join, but their stories of bards and scalds remain favorites among the diaspora.

Bonds

When creating a dar character, you can use the following table of bonds to help flesh out your character. Use this table in addition to or in place of your background’s bond or a bond of your creation.

d6 Bond
1 Seafaring Poet. My only love is the sea, and I choose to live out my days in its embrace. My relationship with the sea is not one of survival or mercantilism, but one of romance. On its waves, I feel at home.
2 Seeker. I keep the records of the dar, traveling from city to city, collecting information about the survivors of my people. If I am looking for something in the small list of names, I have never told anyone what it is.
3 Slayer of Foes. I hunt, in the way of my people, but I hunt the sahuagin and aboleths that destroyed us. Their deaths give my life meaning.
4 Sower of Chaos. While my people keep to the old ways, live as though the old rules of our society still exist, I have moved beyond them. The old ways destroyed us, and I will create change by making the world a less ordered, less comfortable place for everyone.
5 Super-predator. I am a born hunter, and the company of others is of little interest to me. I particularly delight in bringing down large prey on my own.
6 Survivor. I seek no goal greater than my own survival, at any cost. I will betray any ally, break any vow, if it means that I, and my people, can live for one more day.

Hacking the Darfellan

I don’t know what it is about the darfellan that I find so compelling. It might just be the picture. Mechanically, as presented in Stormwrack, they’re not that impressive. Medium creatures who can hold their breath, bite, and echolocate? The last is interesting, but most of their features are flat. Still, something about the race has always intrigued me. I like races with stories, so that’s part of it. I also like the idea of a race where even the crudest barbarian is thoughtful and well-spoken.

When I converted to 5e, I dropped the bite, because it’s boring, and replaced it with something a little more story-focused. The thing is, “slippery mind” is passive, and bite is active. It’s a little dull to replace an active ability, and attack, with a passive one. While “dar weapon training” isn’t as active biting, martial weapon proficiencies are rare in 5e, and even if the trident isn’t a great martial weapon, it’s a start. With echolocation, natural swimming, and hold breath, they might be a little over-powered in an aquatic campaign, but in most games those things will be ribbons. They just won’t come up that often.

Dar names are taken from the Nigerian language, for its musicality. The idea of the dar as warrior-poets comes from a desire to set them up as “good Vikings,” seafarers who were more interested in helping people than raiding them and taking their stuff. All the same, I imagine that they’d have similar warrior traditions, for those who were warriors. Warriors among the dar are rare enough that they fit in nicely with the “great man theory” of D&D: in this game, history is moved not by social forces, but by exceptional individuals. The dar, those few that remain, are waiting for one such individual to arise, unite them, drive back their foes, and return to them their lands. Every diaspora has stories like this; it’s a natural outgrowth of feeling powerless and cut off from your home. In D&D, for the dar, at least, unlike in the real world, we could get to be that person.

Someone has to be the Deep Dweller, after all. Why shouldn’t it be your PC?

Next time: A Skaldic Bard Archetype for Dar, and Everyone!

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