Posts Tagged ‘Svirfneblin’

Say hello to Krutzworth Steelbelly! He’s my character for the Battlesystem Brawl – coming this Sunday night at 7:30 to The Tome Show’s Twitch channel.

PDF Character Sheet – Krutzworth Steelbelly

Krutzworth Steelbelly’s father, Malick, was a general in the army of allied earth forces who died in a battle against the forces of air, fire, and water. Since birth Krutzworth was weak and small, but tried to live up to the Steelbelly name. He found an ancient tome in his family’s crypt one night while praying to his father for strength. This book taught him the secrets of the arcane. He has sworn to use his magic might to wipe his father’s enemies from the face of the planet and plans to erect a monument in the likeness of Malick from the bones of the defeated foes.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

So I’ve already written quite a bit about some of the races available to my players in Exploration Age – the assimar in one post and the deva, mul, and shardmind in another. Yet, I’ve got more yet to be released D&D races I’m going to make available to them and I’d like to give you the mechanics I’ve created as well as the unique story for each race in my setting.


First up, the svirfneblin. They’re actually a gnome subrace, so bust out that Player’s Handbook, and check out the gnome. I’ve given you the deep gnome story in another post, so check that out if you want their story. Here are the mechanics.

Svirfneblin Traits

Deep gnomes are weird.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Svrifneblin Combat Training. You have proficiency with the war pick and warhammer.

Svirfneblin Lights. You know the dancing lights cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell.


Mohawk duergar is the best.

Living with the drow and fighting side-by-side in their constant war with the aberrants are the duergar, or gray dwarves. Like their surface kin the gray dwarves value martial prowess and good well-crafted. This is, of course, because the duergar descended from their surface kin a long time ago. During their bloody war with the chromatic dragons on the side of the shardminds, some dwarves went into The Underdark seeking refuge. These dwarves became the duergar and eventually found an entirely new war beneath the surface.

Now, in many ways duergar have more in common with drow than they do with dwarves of the world above. Both duergar and drow deal with the constant stress of their aberrant war and rely on each other with undying trust.

While they share brotherhood and battlelines with the drow, duergar do not share their drow’s impulsiveness and live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last lifestyle. Almost everything the duergar do is in preparation for war. Duergar are practical and know that a good night’s sleep and healthy meal are more likely than a late night of revelry at ensuring survival the next day. They craft arms and armor, mine metals, and train constantly. Ever vigilant, careful, and calculating are the gray dwarves.

Duergar adventurers could be mercenaries seeking a better life on the surface, aberrant hunters hoping to learn new techniques to help them with their war below, deadly assassins for hire, or anything you dream.

Duergar Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your dark vision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Duergar Magic. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the enlarge spell once per day, but you may only target yourself with the spell. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.


Don’t mess.

Shifters are born outcasts. Many are killed as babes, their parents too horrified to look upon them. To the elves they are abhorrent monstrosities. To the werewolves – an evolutionary misstep deserving only to die. Many of the shifters lucky enough to have a parent let them live are still kicked out of the house at an early age, or orphaned when their parent is murdered by bigots.

These abandoned shifters find each other and form communities of wandering vagabonds who make a living performing, swindling, and selling crafts. These communities exist all over Findalay and many look forward to the circuses and carnivals the shifters provide. Others feel shifters have been short-changed and try to help these beings find a more established life in Findalay. Some fear the partial werewolf race avoiding and shunning them. The truly fearful seek out and kill these half-breeds.

The discovery of Verda has opened up new possibilities for the shifters, a place where they may have a home of their own free from persecution, stares, jeers, discrimination, violence, and the ever-looming Brotherhood of the Moon.

Shifter adventurers could be thieves disguised as traveling circus performers, cunning mages using their magic to predict people’s fortunes, wild, untamed barbarians, or anything you dream.

Shifter Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Age. Shifters mature and age at the same rate as humans.

Alignment. When it comes to good or evil, shifters are usually neutral, since they embody the spirit of the wild. Most shifters tend to be wild and free and therefore favor chaos over law.

Size. Shifters range from just over 5 to just over 6 feet tall and have lean builds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your lycanthrope heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Subrace. Two subraces of shifter are found in Canus: longtooth and razorclaw. Choose one of these sub races.

Longtooth Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.

Longtooth Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, you gain a +2 damage bonus to Strength-based attacks and regenerate 5 HP at the start of your turns. In addition, you grow long fangs which function as a light weapon which deals 1d6 piercing damage. You may attack with your fangs as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of longtooth shifting at 8th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +4, and your attacks with your fangs count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +6.

Razorclaw Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Razorclaw Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, your speed increases by five feet, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC, and you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws. In addition, you grow a pair of claws which function as light, finesse melee weapons which deal 1d6 slashing damage. You may attack with one of your claws as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of razorclaw shifting at 8th level and your speed increases by 10 feet, you attacks with your claws count as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance, and your bonus to AC increases to +2 while shifting. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your speed increases by 15 feet and your bonus to AC increases to +3 while shifting.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I love strange fantasy races. The more bizarre the better. The grognards may shake their heads at shardmind, kalashtar, and dragonborn, but I say bring them on and keep them coming!

So needless to say I was a little disappointed, though not wholly unsurprised when I saw this list of Player’s Handbook races tweeted out by Wizards of the Coast last week.

I need some more weird!

I need some more weird!

Time to Steal

I’ve written about my good habit of stealing ideas from those smarter than I. My favorite fantasy races are not the elf and dwarf (though I do enjoy a playing pointy eared or bearded PC from time to time). My favorites are the warforged, mul, genasi, and other races of setting specific campaigns. So I say, why not steal them for my own game if I love them so much? Yeah! Why not?

Well, many of these races are specific D&D licensed property, meaning they are the original intellectual property of the company, meaning they were made by D&D for D&D (unlike elves, dwarves, orcs, and more which existed before D&D came along). That means they most-likely won’t be covered in the forthcoming OGL. That means I probably shouldn’t put them in products I’m planning on selling, like the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

However, it does not mean that I can’t incorporate these races into my home game or include them in a FREE supplement for folks who want to play a game in Exploration Age… Hmm…

Incorporating the Bizarre Races

Here’s my way of incorporating some of the more unusual PC races into the story of Exploration Age. I’ve already written about the shifters and warforged, but here are some others. Their behavior and ecology may differ from their original settings in order to bring them into Canus, but I tried to keep the heart and soul of the races intact. I want a thri-kreen to still feel like a thri-kreen.

At some point, I’ll be creating mechanics for these races, but this post is all about making the races of other settings work in your story. This is just a taste.


Like their githzerai parents, kalashtar are calm and contemplative, and like their human parents, inquisitive and curious. Such a combination marks these rare humanoids as ripe for a life of adventure.

Kalashtar serve a vital role in the tribes. Often they act as emissaries, carrying a chief’s message across the neighboring lands, or as neutral mediators, negotiating peace between two warring tribes. Kalashtar often break off on their own when they come of age, hoping to see all that Canus has to offer. More than any other race, they are willing to travel to West Canus. The furtive stares and pointed questions of the locals do not bother them, since the Kalashtar are just as eager to stare and question them back.

Kalashtar adventurers could be druids wandering the wider world cataloging all manner of flora and fauna, mages studying the origin of magic, paladins who believe all life is beautiful and worthy of protection, or anything you dream.


If half-elves are rare in Exploration Age, then muls are practically unknown. These half-human, half-dwarves are met with pity, fear, and disrespect across West Canus. Mul struggle and often fail to find belonging among either their human or dwarven kin. Like half-elves, this not-so-subtle poly-ethnic persecution is at the heart of their racial identity.

In Bragonay, muls are not brought into the caste system. They are treated as outsiders and have no access to the services of the region. Unlike Kalashtar, these half-dwarves, do feel the burn of the many eyes that glare at them with suspicion. As a result, they speak little and do all they can to blend into the crowd. However, muls are not pushovers. They end conflict swiftly, usually with a harsh word or solid hit to the mouth.

The life of a mul is usually one of lonely wandering. They are occasionally accepted by bands of half-elves and could live a more stable life in Marrial or somewhere in Verda. For the most part muls serve as self-taught mercenaries and thieves, making their living off their strength and resilience.

Mul adventurers could be wandering thieves, battle-hardened professional fighters, demolitions experts, or anything you dream.


If you like weird, you’ll love the shardmind.

Amongst the rare races of Canus, sharmind are the most uncommon. These crystalline beings were created long ago by the chromatic dragons of West Canus. No more have been made since the shardminds rose up against their creators. Despite their infinite life-spans, many met their ends in that uprising, and throughout the millennia others have fallen admist adventures and battle. This dying breed is made up of wandering hermits, secluded scholars, and nihilistic daredevils.

The shardminds alive today have forgotten more years than most other humanoid races have lived. Some shardmind let their long lives fuel them, diving into research and training to hone their abilities and become the best they can be at a particular discipline. Others have given up and now seek a glorious death in an adventure. They want to go out of this meaningless life in an explosive finale, often battling against their most hated foe – chromatic dragons.

Contemplative, quiet, and patient are the virtues of these crystalline people. Shardminds are often loners, and many members of other races go their entire lives without ever seeing one. Unless they are adventuring with a party, they tend to avoid populated areas and make their homes in the wilderness so they might be alone with their thoughts and projects.

Sharmind adventurers could be scholarly mages unlocking the secrets of the universe, fighters seeking their glorious end, hermit clerics who have tapped into the power of the divine, or anything you dream.


Deep gnomes, or svirfneblin, live with the drow and duergar of Quatus. They share the same brotherhood and loyalty of these peoples but they have something the too-practical duergar and devil-may-care drow lack – a sense of hope. While duergar have accepted their war with the aberrants as eternal and the dark elves bury the issue with partying, the deep gnomes believe that someday they could beat the aberrants. The svirfneblin have not lost sight of what makes life worth living.

Deep gnomes work hard; they are tinkerers and inventors who love working the stone and metals of The Underdark. They take great comfort in spending time with family and friends, drinking good tea, and eating good food. They understand the complex and take joy in the simple. The gray dwarves would say the svirfneblin are naive, while the drow would say they are too boring, but there is a reason all three of these races live together. In the darkest hours of Quatus, the hope that the svirfneblin provide is infectious to the other races of the war-torn country.

Amongst the people of the surface, svirfneblin are met with kindness. They are honest merchants and well-mannered diplomats, but they do not often serve in these rolls since they can be easily pushed around since they are too willing to trust. A deep gnome merchant is usually a good thing for a consumer looking to make a dishonest deal.

Svirfneblin adventurers could be crafty rogues, curious tinkerers, mages out to end the aberrant threat for good, or anything you dream.



Thri-kreen tribes have been stalking The Sprawling Jungle of Verda for as long as humans have been on Canus. These bellicose humanoids answer almost any threat or annoyance with battle. Thri-kreen are bitter toward enemies, suspicious of outsiders, and take extreme all-or-nothing solutions to most problems. However they are also loyal allies and friends.

Thri-kreen enjoy battle and take pleasure in the thrill of placing one’s life on the line. To them, the best and most honorable death is one that comes from an enemy blade. The strongest warriors are always the chiefs of their tribes. Thri-kreen are taught the ways of battle from the time they are little. Even when a thri-kreen tribe isn’t at war, it trains with other tribes and within its own people. Thri-kreen warriors and mages fight one another for entertainment, an activity which guests of the tribe are expected to join. Other than battle and the study of war, thri-kreen take pleasure in nature. They find it peaceful to commune with plants and animals after a long battle and are taught the names and behaviors of all the all that lives within the jungle.

Thri-kreen treat most other races suspiciously, particularly folk foreign to Verda. Their trust is hard to earn and usually won through battle. Once that relationship is earned, thri-kreen will die for their friends.

Thri-kreen adventurers could be honorable barbarians, wise druid shamans, fierce rangers defending the jungle, or anything you dream.

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Four underground mega-cities make-up the nation of Quatus. Drow, duergar, and svirfneblin work together to fight a threat pressing upon their gates and looming large in the tunnels outside their cities. Constant stress and violence has taught Quatus’ citizens to be alert, proactive, and ready to strike. That same stress has also brought the citizens of Quatus together like nowhere else. No group of humanoids is more loyal to one another than the citizens of Quatus. They embody patriotism.

The Aberrant Threat

You never want to be this close to a mind flayer if you can avoid it.

Years ago, the aberrants of West Canus were driven deep underground by chromatic dragons and shardminds. Weakened and small in number, the aberrants hid and licked their wounds, growing their ranks and preparing to once again take Canus for themselves. During this time they took note of the ten glorious Underdark cities of the drow, duergar, and svirfneblin. These aberrants decide the surface world was no longer the place to make a home and instead set their sights on The Underdark. For thousands of years the rested and then struck with a fury against the ill prepared cities.

After years of war and struggle, and the loss of half their population when many war-weary drow and svirfneblin headed to the surface, the Underdark humanoids only have four fortified cities that have not fallen to the aberrants. The citizens of these cities know well the danger lurking just outside the gates.

Each city has only a few heavily guarded entry points. The only way to get to these points is via narrow tunnels with gates every fifty feet. The narrow tunnels and checkpoints bottleneck traffic into the cities. If an aberrant attack occurs the gates are slammed down isolating the incident. The folk trapped inside with the beasts are left to fend for themselves until crossbow wielding guards make an appearance and shoot at the monsters through the bars of the gate. Needless to say, waiting in line to get into a city is a tense experience.

Inside of a Quatus city, every citizen is armed. Though it is a rare occurrence, the aberrants will sometimes burrow through the floor, walls, or ceiling of a city and attack. Since all drow, duergar, and svirfneblin spend a decade or more in the military after coming of age, the populous is an accomplished army, ready for action. The people of Quatus are fiercely loyal to one another since they are all brothers and sisters in arms. The people of Quatus have more enemies than just the aberrants against whom to rally.

The Elf Punishment

Don’t mess with the drow. They have pets.

If fighting the aberrants is about survival, than fighting the elves is about vengeance. When the elves left the drow millennia ago an incurable divide formed between the two groups. Since then the drow have performed many violent surgical strikes against critical elf targets. The most infamous of these strikes being The Arachna War.

The Arachna War was a period of time which came after Quantian spies placed giant spider eggs all over Taliana. Eventually these eggs hatched releasing an army of huge vermin that terrorized Taliana’s population. Eventually, these spiders were mostly defeated with the help of The Arcane College, but some of these beasts still stalk Taliana’s forests.

Today, the tactics of the Quantians concerning the elves is to strike when they are least expected. Sometimes they strike large groups of elves at a joyous public gathering. Other times they may steal an object of importance or deface a monument. Sometimes they may assassinate an important target. They may poison wells or spread disease or hatch another scheme. Their goal concerning the elves is to make their existence on the surface so unbearable that they return to their brethren of The Underdark.


Each of Quatus four cities is run by an all-powerful General King. Martial law is the only law in Quatus. The General Kings have officers answerable to them and communicate with the leaders of other cities daily through crystal balls and in-person meetings via teleportation circle. All General Kings are drow. Any major decisions involving Quatus they make together. They will only enact policy with a unanimous vote, so their talk and debates can take a long time.

For the most part the General Kings leave the day-to-day running of their cities to their officers and focus in the big picture – the war with the aberrants and the war with the elves.

Officers treat all non-military citizens as privates. They give orders which must be obeyed for security and survival. Very little is private in Quatus. The military has access to any documents, information, and history for which it asks its citizens. Those who do not comply are tortured and threatened as necessary. This is not often though, for the people of Quatus are Exploration Age’s most patriotic and are willing to give up privacy for security in a moment’s notice.

Life in Quatus

At least the view is decent!

Life in Quatus is full of extreme highs and lows. The drow believe every second they are alive is a moment to have joy and so they push those boundaries by partying hard and enjoying the fruits of life while they can. Duergar take tremendous pleasure in their work and crafts while deep gnomes get joy from time spent with family and friends. Still on any given day, a friend may fall in the tunnels or on a mission to the surface. Funerals are quick and constant in Quatus.

The folk of Quatus usually enjoy simple, hearty meals made up of various mushrooms, root vegetables, and underground varieties of pork or beef. Their art and architecture has a classical feel – beautiful marble statues, paintings, mosaics, monuments, and buildings stand as testaments to great heroes and those who have fallen in battle.

Quatus’ biggest export to the nations of the surface are precious gemstones. These are valuable because they are often components for vehicles and equipment that run on magic. Of course mining has its dangers in the tunnels, but for every miner there are two soldiers within the tunnels, ever vigilant for the aberrant threat. The gems are expensive, because trips to the surface are fraught with perils.

Likewise, travelers do make their way to Quatus, though not often. The citizens are naturally suspicious of outsiders and the journey from the surface is dangerous. Only the richest merchants can hire enough well-trained guards or afford the teleport to make it to Quatus alive. The military leaders of Quatus know some secret tunnels that can get them to surface quickly for performing raids on Taliana but they do not share them with anyone they don’t trust, as those tunnels could be used against them.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!