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Varanids

Varanids are monitor-lizard persons, lean and wild.

Varanids are “monitorlizardmen”—five to six foot tall upright lizards, highly tribal, long ago gengineered by the Tephnians so that their voiceboxes allow them to speak with humans, in their trademark singsong rasp.  Still quite venomous themselves, the varanids can eat the “greendeer” (photosynthetic pseudoanimals that abundantly roam the land, which nonsquamids cannot eat).  They are generally disdainful of nonsquamids and rivals of the scincids, in an older brother-esque way.

Varanids live mostly in their “empire,” the vast wetland called Arakha (“home” or “mouth,” the words are the same, in High Arakhan Varanish), though more move to eastern Vennar and northern Rosavalee and Ripar each year.

Varanids tend to be roughly the same height as men but much stronger and leaner.  They are far less practical and adaptable, however, and suffer from a certain brusqueness that strikes humans, unhumans, gmothi, and insectids as provincial, close-minded.  This isn’t helped by the fact that the in their tweak of the Varanid Blood Code (genome), the Tephnians modified only their capacity for language and left unaltered their metabolism:  This means varanids tend to be obsessed with hunting game and eating, even if full, in a new and potentially dangerous environment, etc.

Highly visual and always attuned to colors, varanids are organized into castes called chromagens (“color families,” Old Tephnian) according to lineage, which also influences the color of their scales (though little else).  The castes supposedly follow function, not imply it, meaning that a family of blighteaters who rise to leadership positions, member after member, may birth a generation of watersmilers next.  In reality, this is a slow process, and there are many between-caste members—who are, nevertheless, treated strictly as part of one caste or another.

The eight varanid chromagens (the numbers matter, astrologically, to the varanids) are:

  1. Blighteaters (white) – “non-persons,” assassins, gravediggers, prostitutes, chattel, servants, gamblers.  Associated with death and the land beyond Arakha.  2% of the total varanid population.  Very low social standing.  Considered as “un-signed” or totally free from fate, astrologically.
  2. Fangpainters (red) – the “knights” of Arakha (the Fangs).  Frequently eschewing high office for a continued military role until retirement, the fangpainters are, in Arakhan propaganda, the most patriotic caste.  Especially after the Second Unhuman War, families of this caste have enjoyed a place of privilege over the non-martial deerdrinkers, which had, in antiquity, been a caste of similar social standing.  14% total pop.  Average–high social standing.  Average–high varanid astrological luck.
  3. Deerdrinkers, eeldrinkers, fishdrinkers, etc. (green) – “hunters.”  They form the backbone (the “Teeth,” in the hunting/eating-obsessed varanid metaphor) of Arakha.  Supra-gens (large blocs of families) are termed X-”drinkers” locally, according to their traditional role in the local economy.  “Deerdrinker” is the varanid equivalent of the American “Johnson.”  It implies nothing in particular.  70% total pop.  Average social standing.  Average varanid astrological luck.
  4. Nightsingers (black) – “seers,” doctors, shamans.  2% total pop.  Nightsingers are most often doctors, midwives, and “snake-gossipers” (veterinarians—the varanids are exceedingly fond of pets, despite or perhaps because of their tendency to eat them).  High or low social standing, depending on region.  Very high varanid astrological luck.
  5. Watersmilers (blue) – “chiefs,” leaders, judges, police.  Watersmilers generally hold half of the positions of political and military authority in Arakha, with Firestanders holding the remaining half.  3% total pop.  Very high social standing.  High varanid astrological luck.
  6. Firestanders (orange) – ”speakers,” lawyers, historians, teachers, translators.  These are the varanids most likely to engage in high-level diplomatic dialogue with non-squamids.  Lower-status firestanders tend to server as translators and rural lawyers.  According to Arakhan custom, at least one prominent firestander must mediate any serious inter-caste dispute (alongside, presumably, a watersmiler judge, if the conflict has led to a trial).  4% total pop.  Very high social standing.  Very high varanid astrological luck.
  7. Sunbuilders (yellow) – “storytellers,” musicians, tinkers.  These are the varanids most similar to scincids, according to varanids and scincids.  Families of sunbuilders tend to resemble human Rom (gypsy) cohorts, but are more welcome in the communities outside of which they choose to temporarily reside.  2% total pop.  Low–average social standing.  Variable luck, depending on whether you’re asking a sunbuilder or a member of another caste.
  8. Hatekeepers or Secretkeepers (gray) – “outcasts.”  It is not clear why some families became hatekeepers instead of blighteaters, or why blighteaters are considered useful (if noxious) members of Arakhan society, whereas hatekeepers are considered menaces.  More confusingly, blightkeepers more often seek their fortunes in the “dry place” (the rest of the world), whereas most hatekeepers become internal exiles (and, frequently, criminals) in Arakha.  3% total pop.  Not technically part of the caste system.  Very low varanid astrological luck.

Ability modifiers:  +1 DEX, +1 STR, -1 WIS, -1 CHA.

Size:  Medium.  Land speed 30 feet.

Hell science classes allowed:  Malmain.

Species bonus:

  • Fangs and claws:  d4/d2/d2 damage, -0/-4/-4 attack, automatically proficient.
  • Venomous bite:  FOR save at -(varanid level)/4; failure inflicts d10 hemotoxic damage, slows movement to half; subsequent bites become lethal on failed saves, continue to half movement until paralyzed (movement would be less than 1ft/rnd), even on successful save.
  • Favored class:  Ranger (Tooth or Fang of Arakha [elite tracker/hunter/warden or elite special forces officer, respectively]).

Species malus:

  • Squamous:  Requires wetskin to travel without losing 1 CON/day outside of wetlands (1 bonus at start must be spent on Archaetech: Wetskin).
  • Very parochial:  Must make WIS checks when insulted or else attack; bonus or penalty to check based on situation, use of Intimidate, etc.
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