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Mantids

Mantids are mantis-persons.  Similar to the thri-kreen of Dark Sun.

The mantismen of the West are, in many ways, some of the most “human” sentient beings, mentally, on the earth.  Though they are huge “bugs” (they have adopted the term), mantids are also citizens of huge competing massive city-nations called “Eggs,” fierce individualists, inventors, and highly given to spiritual reflection.  (Admittedly, their religions are of a sort that seem alien to humans—they worship, predator-like, individual phsyical prowess, but they also worship, ur-patriot like, the continuation and especially the health of their Egg.)

Mantids are green or taupe or, rarely, black.  Any adventuring mantid would be a female, as the male are effectively kept as chattel (“house bugs”) back in the Eggs.  They herd docile insectids for food and are strongly concerned about the fomori (antmen) and their Empire to the south.  In the Eggs, mantids pursue various careers and built art, always three-dimensional, out of the sugar-secretions of one species of their herd animals.

Each Egg stands suddenly out of and still amid the West’s one continuous titan green field of house-high razorgrass and marsh:  There, out of the heat-haze, is a thin egg-shaped wall of post-plastic, hovering and perforated with many defensible exits.  Behind these are piled (or float) a mass of huge green-gray and yellow-white slime-towers (condos) and larval-chamber spheres and amphitheaters and strange spiral hospitals and flute-like weapons-stations.  The sight of an Egg, after the poor medieval cities of Pala and Latura, is truly astonishing…

Mantids and fomori communicate electrochemically, but possess, like the gmothi, more Tephnian archaetech than other species.  A “babelbox” (small biocomputer with speaker, attached to the face and legs, where the spiracles, or “ears” are) allows a mantid to communicate in a robotic voice with non-insectids.  Talking to a fomori is easy but “feels” like changing a radio station to half-static.

Like humans, mantids are creatures of paradox:  Thanks to a long written history and religious tradition, mantids are highly suspicious of gengineering.  And yet, in every Egg, the science is spreading rapidly, giving rise to an early capitalist money system (though mantid money is alive—composed of different artificially valued grubs).  More and more mantid elites are having their wings reverse engineered, or adding limbs, or grafting weapons into their (already weaponized) hands…

Perhaps more importantly, like humans, mantids are beginning to spontaneously evolve the hell science and may take the peripheral H.S. classes.  Their armies are almost totally composed of black legionaries and malmains, at this point.

A mantid may journey to Pala for many reasons, but the most likely (as with a fomori) is practical:  The Eggs are now in the same state of relative peace as are the superpowers of Pala and Latura; they are sending out diplomats to shape the future of the planet… and spies to ensure shape the shaping.

Ability modifiers:  +4 DEX, -1 CON, -2 WIS.

Size:  Medium.  Land speed 40 feet.

Hell science classes allowed:  Black Legionary, Malmain, Snakehead.

Species bonus:

  • Jack of all trades:  1 extra feat at 1st level.  4 extra skill points at 1st level.  1 extra skill point at each additional level.
  • “Praying” hands/mandibles:  d8/d8/d4 dmg; automatically proficient; -4/-0/-4 to attack (one hand has no penalty); successful bite begins grappling; every round of grappling, however, does 1 dmg to the mantid.  Avoiding grappling requires training (an extra proficiency).  Very useful for monks.
  • Ex-flyer:  Can be gengineered to fly again (difficulty +20, requiring a true master and lots of Archaetech…).
  • Perfect vision:  As long as there is normal or slightly lower than normal light, a mantid can see three times farther than a human.  A mantid cannot see in flare-bright light, nor in total darkness.  +4 Search.
  • Favored class:  Any.  When determining whether a multiclass mantid takes an experience point penalty, her highest-level class does not count.

Species malus:

  • Silent:  Requires babelbox to speak with hominids, squamids, and octopods (1 bonus at start must be spent on Archaetech: Insectid Babelbox).
  • Alien predator:  When hungry, must make WIL saves at increasing penalty to not eat companions.
  • Colorblind:  Though mantids have perfect vision for hunting, they do not see colors.
  • Cold sensitivity:  Cold damage is doubled.  Extreme temperature changes “blind” mantids (by disrupting their antenna and thus their electricochemical balance) and call for a FOR save (potentially at a minus, depending on the extreme); a failed save results in halved movement for an hour.
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