Races of the East: Taer
Primitive hunters of the icebound north, taers are cruel and savage creatures who haunt the remote mountains and passes of the East. They launch war parties into warmer lands, carrying off livestock, food stores, or even people for the clan's larder. Even more so than other evil folk such as orcs or gnolls, taers are regarded by other races as crude, bloodthirsty beasts without a single redeeming quality.
Although taers regard other creatures as potential enemies or meals, they possess a surprisingly complex store of oral histories, rules for conduct within the clan, and tribal wisdom. Long ago, the race developed a comprehensive code to govern its tendency toward violence, at least between its own members. Anyone not of the taer's clan is beyond the protection of this code and can be robbed, murdered, or eaten at will. Those few taers who wander into civilized lands either extend their concept of "clan" to some other set of intelligent creatures, such as a group of bandits, a village, or an adventuring band, or quickly die at the hands of an angry mob.
Personality: They lack the cognitive and innovative intelligence of humans and other such races, but taers are intuitive and imaginative in their own way. They think in analogies and metaphors, most of which are mythic sagas handed down by the storytellers of the clan from generations past. Taers see themselves as characters in a life-story that began long before they were born and will go on long after they are dead.
Taers who leave their clans and learn to regard people of other races as fellow tribesfolk (as opposed to prey) slowly weave their new experiences into their old worldview, constructing new myths to explain what they cannot understand any other way. A taer can literally "turn off" cognitive thought and descend into bestial rage in the blink of an eye to meet a physical challenge, but for days afterward, he ponders the experience and seeks to explain what happened.
Physical Description: Taers are powerfully built creatures about 5 to 6 feet in height, with thickly muscled arms and ape-like faces. They are covered in thick white fur that blends in with snowy backgrounds, although their hands and faces are bare of fur. Beneath their fur, their skin is dark gray and leathery in texture. A male taer weighs about 220 pounds, while a female is more lightly built, weighing about 180 pounds. Taers carry themselves in a crouch, their knuckles almost dragging on the ground; a taer that straightens up stands almost 7 feet in height.
Relations: No other race gets along well with taers, although frost giants, ogres, and white dragons occasionally ally with a taer clan to achieve some greater goal. In turn, taers typically view all other creatures as either enemies or prey. A taer who learns to include non-taer companions as part of his "clan" can be a loyal comrade, but he often measures his companions actions against taer expectations.
Alignment: Taers are drawn neither to law or chaos. They value the complex rules of their clan life but yearn for wild freedom. They tend to be evil, preying on non-taers too weak to defend themselves. Even within the clan, taers use their traditions ruthlessly to attain the highest status possible. A fair number of adventuring taers are of neutral alignment.
Religion: Taers possess a complex pantheon filled with spirits and mythical figures, but they most often revere aspects of Auril the Frostmaiden and Loviatar. Giant deities such as Grolantor and Thrym also appear in taer mythology.
Language: Taers speak Giant. Player character taers speak Common as well. Bonus languages include Auran, Damaran, Draconic, Orc, and Rashemi, although it's a rare taer who can manage more than two languages.
Names: Taers name themselves after landmarks and natural phenomena, preceded by a simple clan name. Examples include: Hrusk Mountain Thunder, Vulg Falling Ice, or Chark Smoking Sky.
Adventurers: Adventuring taer are almost always outcasts from their clan, who were defeated in (or failed to pursue correctly) the endless taer measurement of fitness. They are more comfortable joining a small band they can think of as a new clan than living among the folk of a large settlement. Most taer adventurers are simple brigands, but some become mercenaries who sell their strength and ferocity, and a few rare individuals attach their loyalties to a band of good-hearted heroes.
Regions: Almost all taers choose the taer region, which describes an individual driven from his clan and sent into exile in human lands.
Taer Racial Traits
Taers have the following racial abilities and characteristics.
- +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -4 Intelligence (to a minimum of 3), -2 Charisma: Taers are tough and tremendously strong, but are insular and do not have the reasoning capacities of other races.
- Land speed 30 feet, climb speed 30 feet. Taers gain a +8 racial bonus on all Climb checks. A taer must make a Climb check to climb a wall or slope with a DC of more than 0 but can always choose to take 10, even if rushed or threatened while climbing. A taer who chooses an accelerated climb moves at double the listed climb speed and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. Taers cannot use the run action while climbing. They retain their Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus to their attacks against climbing taers.
- Racial Hit Dice: A taer begins with two levels of giant. This provides 2d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +1, and base saving throws of Fort +3, Ref +0, and Will +0.
- Racial Skills: A taer character's giant levels give him skill points equal to 5 x (2 + Intelligence modifier). Taer class skills are Climb, Hide, and Spot. A taer's pelt blends in with snowy backgrounds, conferring a +4 racial bonus on Hide checks in snow-covered locales.
- Racial Feats: A taer's giant levels give him one feat.
- Weapon Familiarity: Taers treat greatclubs and longspears as simple weapons.
- Giant: Taers are not subject to spells or effects that affect only humanoids, such as charm person or dominate person.
- Darkvision: Taers can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
- Natural Armor: +2 natural armor bonus.
- Natural Attacks: An unarmed taer can make two slam attacks at his normal attack bonus and a bite attack at a -5 penalty on his normal attack bonus. The taer's slam attacks deal 1d3 points of damage, and the bite deals 1d4 points of damage.
- Cold Subtype (Ex): Taers are immune to cold damage but are vulnerable to fire attacks. They take half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from fire, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed; or if the save is a success or failure.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Giant. Bonus Languages: By character region.
- Level Adjustment: +1. A taer has an effective character level (ECL) of 3 plus class levels, so a 1st-level taer barbarian would have an ECL of 4. See Powerful Races.
- Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclassed taer's barbarian class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty.