Selkie (3.5e Race)
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A oceanic people who can transform between human and seal forms.
Selkies, or silkies as they are also known, behave similarly to both seals and to humans. Like humans, they are a highly social, yet clannish people, and live in small groups of 25 to 75 members, known as pods. Like wild seals, selkies tend to be standoffish, but inquisitive and playful, and may willingly approach strangers who are obviously non-threatening. Selkies old enough to breed, especially males of the adult age category, are sometimes prone to aggressive and territorial behavior, and may challenge adult humans and seals who look like a potential rival.
Selkie society is highly based on survival and deception, with selkies posing either as harmless seals or as coastal humans, depending on the situation. Most of the time, this deception is purely for self-defense. If known, their shapeshifting ability can get them falsely persecuted as lycanthropes, and since a selkie in seal form is almost indistinguishable from a normal seal, occasionally pods are killed by hunters. As a result, most selkies consider it dangerous and irresponsible to reveal one's true nature to strangers, as it risks the safety both of oneself and one's pod. Selkies do not have the same mores against lying as do many other races, and some even practice it as an artform. Selkies often fight among themselves, but rarely does this result in death and most selkies find kin slaying abhorrent. This view does not always extend to other sapient races, and some selkies willingly raid coastal settlements or ships for supplies, even hunting crew for food on occasion.
They are very communal beings, prone to depression when isolated or imprisoned. On occasion, pods may adopt non-selkies into their pod, and individuals have been known to informally claim a human or seal mate and their relatives as their new pod. While selkies tend to be easygoing about personal slights, they are downright vengeful about injuries to pod members. Many a protracted conflict between a coastal community and a selkie pod resulted when a pod member was killed by hunters.
Regardless of form, selkies rarely stand out as unusual or atypical, although selkies are generally considered attractive to both humans and true seals. In human form, a selkie has roughly the same height and weight limits as normal humans, although they tend to be on the larger size. Migratory pods of selkies behave much like intelligent seals, and build up fat for the winter, making their human forms seem overweight. In seal form, selkies often seem unusually small for their apparent species, but are otherwise unremarkable in appearance, save for their eyes, which betray their intelligence. Selkie irises are usually dark brown or black, and do not significantly change in appearance between human and seal forms; selkies have keen vision, but in neither human nor seal form can they see colors. The only potentially unusual aspect of a selkie's human form is his or her hair color and length. The hair color of his or her human form matches the fur color of his or her seal form, which is usually grey, black, or brown, sometimes with speckles or spots. Selkie pups often, though not always, have white hair and fur, which in adulthood eventually darkens to grey, black, or brown. Even female selkies have short or medium length hair, which is rougher than human hair.
Selkies cannot wear clothing in seal form, find it an obstacle in changing forms, and frankly are resistant enough to temperature extremes as to have little need of it even in human form. In general, selkies have no real concept of modesty, although most pods are familiar enough with the cultures of surface races as to see the value of wearing clothing. Selkies prefer loose-fitting clothing that is easy to remove when shapeshifting, such as simple tunics, sandals, and loincloths. They are overly fond of pouches, belts, and similar personal storage devices, and when not masquerading as a mundane seal, a selkie will done several such items to carry its mundane possessions. While selkies are mostly carnivorous, and as such have no issues hunting other animals for food and clothing, they never knowingly wear seal hide items, in case it actually came from a selkie.
Selkies are not well known outside of coastal communities in colder climates, but in those environments, selkies have a mixed reputation. The mere fact that they are shapeshifters colors the responses of many outsiders, especially those who mistake them for another kind of lycanthrope. While most selkies use their shifting powers to hide their pods from outsiders, some instead behave as raiders on lone ships or isolated communities, stealing supplies and hunting residents for sport and food. While definitely the exception, these selkies have an understandable, if disproportionate, effect on selkie reputation.
Humans and selkies have a love and hate relationship, as most humans find selkies to be very attractive (and vice versa), but selkies also have a reputation for being deceitful and predatory, while humans often kill selkies while hunting seals. There are many tragic stories of humans and selkies who have fallen in love, and even raised families, before the selkie is drawn back into the ocean, and others where selkies have saved or even adopted shipwrecked or drowning humans. Selkies often do reciprocate human affection, and even though they are ocean creatures, may sacrifice that life to be with a human partner. A child born of such a union is usually human, albeit with a love for the ocean, but sometimes yields a true selkie.
Selkies have few relations with other humanoid races, and for unknown reasons, cannot interbreed with any other humanoid race. Elves share a love of nature with selkies, but find them as crude as humans, while selkies generally find elves too arrogant to be likable. Halflings, gnomes, orcs, goblinoids, and dwarfs rarely encounter selkies, and treat them as they would any animal shapeshifter. Selkies do get along well with half-orcs and half-elves, sharing the feeling of not quite fitting into any species or environment.
As a coastal people, the selkies rarely encounter other marine peoples, but have no real conflicts with most of them. Two notable exceptions exist: the locathah and the sahuagin. Locathah occasionally fall victim to selkie attacks, and are unfriendly at best even to peaceful pods. The sahuagin are greatly feared by selkies, as the former's dominance of most oceanic regions and predatory xenophobia makes them a formidable threat, and their love of sharks only cements them as a threat to a selkie. It has been proposed by some scholars that the selkies make a point of their masquerade as common seals initially to avoid sahuagin attention, and then extended it to land dwellers.
Like humans, a selkie can be of any alignment. Like seals, most are indifferent to devoted moral positions, and most are either true neutral or have at least one neutral component to their alignment.
Selkies generally live in migratory pods in cold or temperate coastal regions, following food and resting in sheltered isolated areas. They have no lands of their own, and live in the shadow of other terrestrial and marine races.
Most selkies have a shamanistic or druidic faith, praying to ancestor and water spirits for succor. Selkies who marry into and live in human communities often supplement their pod's spiritual traditions with the religion of their spouse. Selkies tend to be attracted to deities with a focus on survival, travel, or nature, but some also embrace deities of decide or knowledge.
The native language of selkies, known as Selkie, is a strange tongue that changes sound depending on form. As a seal, a selkie can speak with other selkies and with seals on a basic level, and only comprehend languages or tongues reveals that a selkie is not merely barking. In human form, it sounds vaguely musical, but recognizably as speech. Selkies are born with the ability to speak this language, even if they are isolated from birth. It has no written form, so selkies usually use the Common script.
Selkies have several names, some of which are private and others which are public. Among their own, selkies first identify themselves by their surname, a combination of their mother's pod and their current pod (if that is different). Their personal names are given to them at birth, and reflect conditions of their birth, physical appearance, or other omens. When dealing with outsiders, selkies usually adopt a public name they have encountered before, which they liked the sound of, or which reminds them of a friendly non-selkie. Selkies do not have gender-specific names of their own, but usually follow naming conventions when choosing a name
- Humanoid (Shapechanger): Selkies are humanoid beings with the ability to transform between human and seal forms.
- Medium: As a Medium creature, a selkie has no special bonuses or penalties due to its size.
- Selkie base land speed is 30 feet.
- Change Shape (Su): As a standard action, a selkie may change between unique and personal human and seal forms. In seal form, a selkie gains a 40 ft. swim speed and corresponding +8 bonus on Swim checks (which supersedes a selkie's racial bonus in human form), his base land speed is reduced to 10 ft., he gains a +2 bonus to natural armor, and he gains a 1d6 primary bite attack. They also receive a +8 bonus on Disguise checks made to appear be a seal. However, a Selkie cannot wear clothing nor humanoid armor while in seal form, and they lose the ability to speak in anything except Selkie. They can pick up objects in their mouths, but cannot manipulate objects with their hands nor casting spells. Otherwise, their statistics and abilities remain unchanged.
- Hold Breath (Ex): A selkie in both human and seal form can hold his or her breath for a number of rounds equal to four times his or her Constitution score, before they risk drowning.
- Selkies have a natural gift for deceit and disguise, and an affinity for swimming. Selkies have a +4 bonus on Bluff and Swim checks, and receive a +8 bonus on Disguise checks to appear being human while in human form (just the species, not individuals).
- A selkie is used to cold temperature extremes. He or she receives a +4 bonus on Fortitude saves made to resist nonlethal damage due to extreme cold, and have resistance 10 to nonlethal damage from cold. They are still just as vulnerable to lethal damage from cold effects.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Selkie. In addition, selkies may communicate on a basic level with seals and other selkies while in seal form.
- Bonus Languages: Any
- Favored Class: Any
- Level Adjustment: +0
- Effective Character Level: 1
|5 years years||+1d3||+1d4||+2d3|
|Middle Age1||Old2||Venerable3||Maximum Age|
|25 years||43 years||60 years||+2d20 years years|
|Gender||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Male||5' 0"||+2d10||120 lb.||× (2d4) lb.|
|Female||4' 10"||+2d10||100 lb.||× (2d4) lb.|
|Effective Character Level||1 +|
|Favored Class||Any +|
|Identifier||3.5e Race +|
|Level Adjustment||0 +|
|Racial Ability Adjustments||None +|
|Summary||A oceanic people who can transform between human and seal forms. +|