"Long have we existed in a world of cold darkness, of constant dripping, of knowing the light is not this place. We know this better than most, living in the world's hollow, deep within as a dirty secret. Elder voices whisper of the times lost, when the ground opened up and we found treasures. Greed took our hearts. The glitter as thousands of eyes captured us. We could not turn away. Deeper we followed the path of power. And as we followed, we grew cold. Nothing could warm us but the sun. Some turned back, rushing for the light. But they were blinded and killed themselves, seeing how their bodies changed. But those darker or more enlightened left the ways of the surface entirely. The unending weight of the pressing earth. The howls of joy and pain. We who have become something twisted, no longer what we once were. We are the Ungoulid. And we do not bid you peace". -Rezfac, the Disgraced
World walker notes from Yanamari: It seems the peoples that live under the earth call their land many things, such as "Silent Abyss,""The Black Hollow," "Endless Deep," and "Vhuldorg". Those who refuse to venture into this deep dark call it the Underlands of Audalis.
The Ungoulid took refuge into the world beneath Antaron long before words were written. For years, they sought treasures that gleamed in the dark armed with crude picks and greed. Into deep caves they trekked, always searching for that which could not be found above. But then one night the skies burned, the heavens cried, and visions of mighty powers appeared. They were the gods come to walk the land and bring order and chaos into balance. Turning from the frightening light and sound, they delved into the earth to find a place hidden from such powers. Who they were before they traveled deeper into the endless dark is not certain, and what they have become, only a rare few have learned. Those lessons have been terrifying.
Living in the bones of the world has bent and twisted this people once of the human world. Many of their people think they changed by the whisperings of Edilphi, the voice that seeps in dark dreams. Others think it is the curse of the deep dark or of those who once walked upright into the vastness of the Silent Abyss. As the ages turned, those first Ungoulid who entered the deep dark sought many paths to keep their people's alive and well. Many a legend says they lost themselves in the dark, and in seeking the way back to the light, they bent in supplication. Others see their plight as a cost for secrets meant to be lost and forgotten to the passing of ages and dust.
These paths became the breeds of the Ungoulid. These breeds are like the clans of men, speaking of a history as hunters, warriors, craftsmen, scholars, priests, and mystics. They live in these breed families, becoming one with the rock around them. Yet, their greatest storytellers can trace links to the long forgotten past through the immense carving near the rivers of molten rock and lakes of frigid waters. They have grown accustomed over time to their world far unlike the civilized Khords or mining Brathunspur.
In the lands of Pardinal, deep within the Railir peaks, the Ungoulid live their lives seeking treasures, the secrets of the deep, and travel throughout the underlands. They scrape and dig at the behest of their High Voices, the Vovahn, who understand the lost whispers of the ancients. The whispers fill the void of caverns and makeshift caves, speaking in tongues never before heard by those above. Some can hear the rumblings of their work in the Railir range. Each seeks what they can in the dark, continuing towards a destiny once lost in the shifting of earth and wearing away of carved memories on bare rock.
The People: Each Ungoulid is different from the next. Some are extremely tall, nearing seven feet, while others are as short as dwarves and gnomes. Their skin is a greenish gray, matching the strange stone around them in the endless dark. They become adults at the age of eight years, one for each of their gods. At this age, they enter a personal test of courage and wisdom to become an adult. When they return, they become accepted fully for all manner of work and teaching. Ungoulid lifespan usually ranges from forty to fifty years, with the oldest known among their kind having seen sixty-three turnings of the wheel. Their lives are hard, leaving their bodies covered in scars. Some of these are ritualistic, others from battle.
One aspect they have in common is the twisting of their visages and bodies. Ungoulid have enormous eyes with thin eyelids. Eye color would be a mottled mix of jade green, dark brown, and yellow if ever seen in the light. The irises are large, taking in as much light as possible. Ungoulid skulls are very wide, with jaws that can unhinge to devour creatures they find to eat.
Ungoulid should choose aspects that describe their deformities. You can choose from following characteristics or create some of your own:
· Long ears
· Large rounded ears
· Completely black eyes
· Clawed fingers
· Clawed toes
· Small horns
· Sharp, pointed teeth
· Large skull
· High-pitched mewling voice
· Low growling voice
· Rocky patches of skin
· Veins of fiery red or soft blue
· Twisted spine
· Elongated spine
· Elongated fingers and toes
**These characteristics do not provide bonuses or negatives for skills. The options are merely cosmetic.
Culture and Society: The Ungoulid are a unified people that remain deep in the caverns and carved rocks under mountains and earth. They group themselves into families bred for tasks. When a new child is born, the Ungoulid seek the insight of their mystics for the path. The child is marked with the symbol of Lannal, the power of pure light from the water (the mixed god of Solanis and Lysora). The familes watch and teach what they must to the child, giving them the experience they need to survive. And each year, they receive a mark of the gods. Each mark symbolizing the journey of their years until their breed joining and testing for adulthood.
When they reach the age of puerthak (five years), they enter a series of tests. When the tests are complete, the mystics know the place of the child, and send them to their new breed family. Mentors and teachers replace mothers and fathers; breedmates become brothers and sisters. At the turning of eight years, they enter the test of ages called kathma. At this age, adults begin to trek into the deep dark to find a secret, explore a new cave, or kill an enemy. The test is sought and completed by each child becoming an adult. None help them in this test. Once done, they become adults.
Males and females have no separation in dutires based on gender until they come together to have a child. Until this time, duties are given to any who would complete them based on strength of skills, minds, and bodies. When two come together to have a child, they seek each other out through simple rituals in the sharing of crystal and carvings, and songs of haunting moans and melodies that travel for miles in the darkness. When the mating ends and the child is born, the two may either remain together or seek other mates. If the mates are within the same breed, they typically stay together, but if they are from different breeds, they usually separate.
There are three distinct breeds (or clans) among the Ungoulid:
The first breed is the Dolfuer. These Ungoulid follow the paths of warriors, trackers, and druids. They seek to know and use all creatures and land of the underlands. For them, the Black Hollow is a land all its own filled with beasts and elementals. When new tunnels are forged or caverns found, the Dolfuer lead the way deeper into the darkness and shadow. The Dolfuer can be found throughout the world of the underlands, tracking new caverns and seeking game. Of all Ungoulid, the Dolfuer are the only ones known to willingly leave for the surface. These are the Ungoulid that can be heard by the creatures and people living in the Railir Peaks - constant clangs, scrabbling, scrapes, and whispers slip from vents, caves, and loose earth into the surface world above.
The second breed is the Waithur. These Ungoulid range throughout the lands of the underland, warring with careless abandon and rage. They hear the dark whispers of the night and turn their thoughts to bloody pain and constant battles. The Waithur tend to make their dwellings in the cold caverns and chilled stone between the surface and deeper dark. They follow the paths of raging warriors, dark spellweavers, and sinister acolytes of the ancient powers of the pantheon. Extremely warlike, they seek to dig and destroy the creatures and lost races of the underlands.
The third breed is the Vovahn. These Ungoulid tend to live in the greatest depths of the underlands, but can be found throughout the Silent Abyss. The Vovahn seek the greatest depths near the molten world of heat and metal. These are the shamans, taleweavers, and craftsman, who learn the power of stones and the dreams of fevers. Through the whispers of ancient lore, magics of the blood, and dreams from the pantheon they bring terrible decrees and visions to their peoples. They are the lore keepers who know the Silent Abyss is far from truly quiet. Some have traveled with the Dolfuer to the surface land to learn the languages of the upright through whispers filtered in stone.
The Ungoulid made their home in the Railir Peaks long ago. They have carved an empire under the earth, digging deep and far throughout Pardinal, Coria, Ertain, and part of Iirlastor Bay. A group continued to dig and build towards Drannon, but a strange power stopped their progress - the ancient magics of the dragon kings in the Standing Stones of Drannon.
The dragon kings called the stones from the earth, raising them high into the air. The bases of the stones are said to drive deep into the heart of the world. The Standing Stones were a neutral place where the great dragons gathered to speak. But many ages have past since their might was last felt in the lands of Audalis. The dragon's kept many eggs there, in the deep hollows under Drannon. They used magic to teleport down into the depths to breed and protect their young for future generations. Actins as guardians, the dragon kings created the Novaldra to protect this area. But when the dragons left the land, the Novaldra had to seek their own way. Losing the call of their masters, they in turn continued deeper into the caverns near the Standing Stones. The Ungoulid who lived to tell the tale speak of a lingering darkness of serpents, smoke, and light. These are the Novaldra. The Ungoulid war with the Novaldra if they near the lands to the Pillars, for in recent years, the Novaldra have sought the extensive mines of the Ungoulid to learn more of the world.
Based on the breed of an Ungoulid, their homes are carved or painted with symbols of their lives, teachings, and journeys. Some of these works are strange and simple in form, while the most ancient of works and words carry with them haunting images in perfect detail of the lands above - scenes within clouds and trees, and of a great mountain of fire. Only the mystics seek to watch and learn from these images, but many have gone mad before their ancient writings.
The Vovahn have brought light to the world of the Ungoulid. In areas where the senses may be fooled, the Vovahn have created chuthail, small lights. They take clear quartz crystals of varying colors and chip away hollow spaces within them. In these, Ungoulid can fill it with luminous fungi. The panes of the crystal amplify the light to a small glow. They light is enough to see by faintly, but does not blind. Some Ungoulid use these lights to hunt or scare away game. Great passages and rooms have some of these chuthail hung when new carvings and painting are being rendered.
Ungoulid rarely make encampments. They usually carve away into the rock itself, making homes that seem to disappear from sight and sound in the caverns. Most structures never rise or jut out of the normal landscape. Entrances to homes, temples, and stores are carved carefully to allow residents to know when an enemy comes when hundreds of feet away. None but the Vovahn may create homes new the molten worlds. These brightly lit lands of lava and ash carry strange words and powers. Only these crafters and mystics have the power to turn back the anger of the earth, the maker's hand (molten rivers).
All Ungouloid breeds speak Ungoul, a tongue with roots in dwarven, gnomish, and the whisperings of the deep.
Dress: The spectrum of Ungoulid clothing is as wide as the color of gems. Some fashion coverings from the fur and scales of creatures they kill, while others string together gems and stones on thin wires pulled from pools of molten metal. The type of dress depends on the homeland and breed.
Dolfuer wear various furs and stolen armors from the creatures and people they kill on the surface and throughout the underlands. They enjoy colors of the earth, browns to greens. The clothing is usually in plates like a crab, held together by metal, stone, bone, or gut. They keep their hair short and burred if they have any at all, and twist it into short braids with carved stone pins holding the ends.
Waithur wear next to nothing in combat. When not warring, they bundle in the pelts and skins of their kills to fend off the cold that can whistle through the caves and caverns. Otherwise, they wear loincloths, mud, and sometimes paint their bodies with the symbols of their great warriors and gods. They have long hair matted into hard sections with clay, blood, and river water mixed as a mud. They never cut nor wash these sections, instead applying more and more mud over the years. Many also pierce their skin anywhere they can with the claws and bones of their kills.
Vovahn cover themselves in the fashioned metal and gems of the deep dark. Metals melt and pool in the fashioned vents so near jets of magma in the mountains. They fashion this metal into wires, cuffs, and form-fitting pieces. They string and embed gems onto the metals, giving them a gleaming, mystical appearance. The greatest of High Voices may be adorned in layers of carved stones and have metal inlaid within their skin using ancient rituals - some of the many secrets they hear so deep in the earth. The Vovahn differ in how they keep their appearance, some having tattoos and braids, while others may have none. However, all Vovahn are known for their earcuffs. These cuffs cover the ears with odd carvings of loops and whirls. The shape of the cuffs help resonate sounds usually lost on the wind. These cuffs take years to make and perfect. Many young Vovahn are almost deaf from poorly carving the cuffs, cutting off sound or honing it too loudly.
Names: The Ungoulid do not have soft or pretty names like most of the world. They have one name only that they take when entering their breed. As time passes, Ungoulid add titles to the name for accomplishments they have completed. For example, Mishran, a member of the Vovahn, may find an ancient tale and create a symphony of sound through a new hall carving. He may gain the name "Mishran of the Sigh Singing Wind and Keeper of Mirgo's Call".
Male: Mishran, Grovnas, Jallbres, Skahhack, Jorgal
Female: Souil, Lailgohst, Frai, Blennall, Yuovna
Trade and Commerce: The Ungoulid trade goods and services to each other. Unlike the world of men, they do not place worth or wealth in the sparkle of gems, the gleam of coin, or the holding of land. Tribes exist throughout the Silent Abyss, trading warriors when war rages or pelts when the cold comes. All tribes gather together once every few years to the Opal Huilwin, cavern of the sightless. This immense cavern is filled with light and beauty, a shimmering of a glowing crystal surrounded by hundreds of smaller crystals.
The Ungoulid gather to trade, breed, and teach. During this time, the cleaned and marked skulls of their dead are brought forth to be added to the sleeping ancients. Chuthail are placed in the eye and nose sockets, depending on their deeds and reverence. The thoughts of the dead are believed to remain in these skulls. When added to the walls of the ancients, knowledge is added and passed on. At the end of the gathering, one tribe remains to care for the ancients and listen for any new tales or pieces of wisdom.
Religion: The Ungoulid recognize all of the greater deities, yet consider some to be the same. When they invoke these gods, they invoke both aspects, such as when in a battle calling out to Garharlg for Bakloran and Therassor. The inflection and deed determines which god or goddess receives the prayer or call for need.
The gods fall are known by the following names:
Solanis and Lysora - Lannal, light from the water (first year)
Rydor - Knolag, word of reason (second year)
Therassor and Bakloran - Garharlg, fist of strength (third year)
Kith-Jora - Jov, father of caverns (fourth year)
Kharox - Wrockna, master of stones (fifth year)
Jusarin and Tyrannis - Edilphi, whispers from the dark (sixth year)
D'hurgen and Garghas - Voth, bringer of endings (seventh year)
Shinara - Skath, turner of years (eighth year)
The turning of years happens in the counting of eight turns. Time is different under the earth. And in their beliefs, it was Skath that brought all change through her keening scream and flaming face. She is the flow of the molten rivers, many of which twist and turn burning away their homes or carving new caverns. Their years change in length according to these monsterous flows. Roughly the age follows the ideal of a day, month, and year as to those on the surface. However, the Ungoulid describe it differently according to their beliefs.
Values and Taboos: The Ungoulid value their breed families. When trouble comes or tales need telling, they turn to those who have earned a place within their homelands. The well-being of their world is far more important than any other. In this, they accept the dark and light. Communities may include the dark sorceries of Waithur with the explorer's desire of the Dolfuer and solemn insights and song of the Vovahn.
If the welfare of the community comes to risk, the offender is dealt with swiftly. Rarely are they killed, but rather sent away to test themselves. In a ritual of stripping, they are exiled from the community to fend for themselves in new or abandoned caverns. The exile loses all titles earned. While away, they must learn to depend on themselves for safety and survival. When the allotted time passes, they may travel to the next Opal Huilwin, and the gathering of the tribes. If they survive and attend, they are accepted as a member again.
The Ungoulid do not like the surface. Some feel the land above is terrible, while others feel a strange call to it. Those who seek the surface are thought to be truly mad, suffering from bewitchments, and individuals who leave to the surface rarely return. To live above is to not live long. Many in the world of men would turn against the Ungoulid, mistaking their slurred speech and horrible visage as that of diseased or damned things. Only those in the breed of Dolfuer ever seek the surface without shame; however, they never walk in the light of day. The sun burns their skin and blinds their eyes, marking them immediately for exile by their own to the surface lest the madness spread.
Game Terms: You can use this race in an Underland campaign in Audalis, but Ungoulid take penalties if they travel the surface lands. The race is meant strictly for underland games. To live and interact in the surface world, special measures must be taken (such as the d20 feat for Sunlight Adaptation or magical protections).
Aboveground Penalties for Ungoulid
These penalties apply to attack rolls, armor class, and other relevant ability/skill checks.
* - optionally, the DM may rule that the character suffers discomfort from the light, and may receive slight penalties to checks/saving throws that require alertness or perception
** - optionally, the DM may rule that the character suffers pain (and/or slight damage) from the light, and should receive moderate penalties to checks/saving throws that require alertness or perception. If this exposure is extended, permenant blinding penalties may apply.
*** - optionally, the DM may rule that the character suffers severe pain (and/or damage) from the light, and should receive severe penalties to checks/saving throws that require alertness or perception. If this exposure is extended, permenant blinding penalties should apply.
· -2 Con, +2 Dex, -4 Cha
· +2 racial bonus to the following skills: Climb, Craft (stone), Hide, Listen, Survival (or Wilderness Lore for 3.0)
· Darkvision: Ungoulid can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and Ungoulid can function just fine with no light at all.
· Ungoulid base speed is 30 feet.
· Favored Class: Fighter.
OSGS Stats (Old School Gaming System):
· -1 Con, +1 Dex, -2 Cha
· +10% bonus on climb
· +15% bonus on detect noise
· +15% bonus on move silently
· +1 on all crafting (stone) checks
· Underground survival: Ungoulids automatically gain the proficieny Suvival (underground), which allows them to find food and water underground where none is apparent.
· Darkvision: Ungoulid can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and Ungoulid can function just fine with no light at all.
Thanks to Yanamari for this contribution!