Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
More common in the lands to the south, these saurians attempt to keep out of the affairs of other races but often fail. Their own myths say they originated in a vast, swampy forest that once covered most of what is now the Cold Desert, Palastan, and the Whitewind Sea. Sages indicate there are reasons to believe this is true.
The real truth of the matter is, few people in Ptolus use the word “lizardfolk.” To the ignorant, they are “lizard men,” whether the individual is male or female. To those in the know—and of course, to actual members of the race—they are assarai.
Personality: The common perception of the lizardfolk is that they are sneaky, slippery, and most likely thieves and liars. These are unfair characterizations. In fact, most assarai are as honest as most humans—as likely to be good as evil and, in reality, usually a complex web of both.
Relations: Lizardfolk are primitive in the eyes of most other humanoids, but they do not have the litorians’ inherent culture of savage nobility and honor. Instead, one can characterize them most easily as folk with simple goals. Few assarai seem ambitious by human standards. Most are content when they simply have enough to eat and can stay relatively safe from harm. They aren’t even that demanding about shelter; many are happy enough without it, as long as the climate never turns very cold. They sleep at night along the docks or sometimes in alleys or in parks with fountains or pools. In a city where they are tolerated, like Ptolus—a place known for its tolerance, relatively speaking—the assarai’s needs are easily met.
This fact of urban life results in copious free time for lizardfolk, which their people never enjoyed in the past, when they dwelled in small villages and had to hunt and cultivate their own food. Over the years, however, non-assarai have decided that most lizardfolk are lazy, shiftless thieves, for how else could they get along without jobs or homes?
The truth is that lizardfolk in the city are very resourceful. They often perform menial tasks for those who will hire them on a temporary basis, earning just enough money to tide them over for a time. Others catch fish in the bay or even down by the river. Still others forage through trash to find food or something to sell. And of course, some do steal—but even then, only enough to meet their simple needs.
The thing to remember is that most assarai in Ptolus do not find their state of indigence and homelessness an undesirable situation. They don’t need more than a little food to eat, and most don’t want permanent shelters like other humanoids. On warm days, it’s not uncommon to see them sunning themselves in a city square or on a rooftop. The City Watch routinely clears them out of these places, but they always come back. In fact, some assarai have grown so accustomed to the Watch that they have learned to migrate through the city from one favored location to the next, keeping just ahead of the guards. Others have found it easier to remain in lairs below the city, living near the underground pools or streams, just to stay out of the way.
Lizardfolk Lands: In a different world, the assarai would have been a more prominent race. At one time, they dominated much of the western portion of the continent, particularly the lands near the coasts, although they rarely trod regions north of Ptolus. However, their territorial culture, as well as their physical nature, brought them into frequent conflict with mammalian races that assumed— particularly long ago—that all lizardfolk were evil. Though still common in most lands, lizardfolk find little welcome in all but the most cosmopolitan cities.
Religion: Many lizardfolk in Ptolus choose to worship Harredda in her nature and protection aspects, although they revere her in reptilian form rather than in raven form.
Names: Lizardfolk do not distinguish between male and female names. Assarai names are often quite sibilant sounding, such as Slaathan, Ssethenus, and Thessisth.
Adventurers: Not all lizardfolk are transient and poor, of course. The exceptions often become mercenaries or adventurers. Every once in a while in Ptolus, assarai warriors attempt to inspire their people to rise up and fight for a better place in the city’s culture, but this never works, because the lizardfolk are generally satisfied with their lot. The “rabble-rousers,” while trying to look out for their people’s well-being and pride, have been overly influenced by the cultures of other races—ones that look down on the lizardfolk.
Because they are both homeless and hardy, slavers in the city frequently make use of lizardfolk. This is a situation the assarai do not accept, and many an assarai’s adventuring career has begun with a quest to rescue enslaved friends or family. Many lizardfolk carry weapons to protect themselves and their comrades from abduction. Sadly, sometimes the City Watch looks the other way in this situation, believing it better that the slavers take the assarai than members of other races.
|ASSARAI AS PLAYER CHARACTERS: Your assarai character share certain characteristics in common with all other lizardfolk.|
|Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.|
|Age. Assarai mature a little faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 14.|
|Alignment: Lizardfolk are usually neutral.|
|Size/Physical Description: Your size is Medium. You stand a little taller than a human, and your tail can measure up to 4 feet in length. Assarai scales range in color from green to grey to brown. City-dwelling lizardfolk dress in standard human clothing: shirts and pants, often including hooded cloaks to help disguise their forms when they venture into certain districts. Their clothing often looks worn, as its condition matters little to most assarai.|
|Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. You also have a swimming speed of 30 feet.|
|Hold Breath. You can hold your breath for up to 15 minutes while underwater.|
|Jaws. You are never unarmed. You are proficient with your jaws, which are a melee weapon that deals 1d4 piercing damage.|
|Natural Armor. You have a + 2 natural armor bonus to your Armor Class.|
|Nimble. You have proficiency in the Acrobatics skill.|
|Languages: City-dwelling assarai almost always speak Common as well as Draconic. In fact, more and more lizardfolk are forgoing Draconic altogether. Only about one in three can read, and most of those read Common, not Draconic.|