Races and Cultures: Salsham'ai
The salsham'ai, or 'tree folk' as the humans call them, are a small arboreal race. They resemble finely-featured humans of about three feet tall, with one exception - their feet are as dextrous as their hands.
The salsham'ai dwell in the hollowed trunks and branches of the giant inter-connecting braashak trees. They are ruled by a matriarchy known as the Motherhood, where positions are awarded on a combination of inheritance and competence. Because of their close ties to nature, the salsham'ai have tended to retain their hunter-gatherer culture at heart, even though they have developed sophisticated cities with complex wooden machinery for transporting people, goods, water and waste between trees and to and from the forest floor. They consider the concept of farming to be distasteful, but this does not stop them from cultivation on a small scale for personal or local use.
The salsham'ai revere the spirits of nature, that they call the shay. As well as the shay they revere Shroma, wild horned hunter and sun god, and Themnass, calm lady of the moon. The salsham'ai view the interplay between Chaos and Concordance as a cooperation between opposites, and this is reflected in their stories about the relationship between Shroma and Themnass, and indeed in the way that the salsham'ai view the relationship between men and women in their daily life. Interwoven between all things is the magical flowing essence known as Pas Aat, which salsham'ai magicians known as Lorewardens can weave to their own ends.
The Lorewardens are important figures in salsham'ai culture; keepers of knowledge, singers of tales, shamans, healers and solemnisers of ceremonies. The salsham'ai have a long history of oral tradition, but they are beginning to use the written word and are building a comprehensive library in their capital city of Thalsa.
Although their small size makes them seemingly weak combatants they have compensated in many ways. Their climbing ability and natural power of camouflage makes them good at ambushes in their forest domain. They have created several fighting styles that make use of their small size, and of the power of Pas Aat to stun enemies with a single gentle touch. These include the Skill of Raindrops and Spider in Amber styles. Furthermore they have domesticated a species of gorilla-like ape, called matoo whom they use as mounts. Matoo are normally docile and used simply as beasts of burden, but war-trained matoo are dangerous indeed.
Salsham'ai tend to stay in their own lands within the braashak but wanderers, traders and adventurers do exist amongst them. Their most sizeable colony can be found in Little Thalsa, a converted parkland in the city of Llaza, but there are salsham'ai amongst most cities around the Sea of Deep Wisdom. Just over 120 years ago, a large number of salsham'ai left their homeland in protest over the terms of a treaty made with the Empire of Splendour. These were Merlessa's Thousand and they have not been heard of since. It is possible, if they did not perish at sea, that they managed to establish a new salsham'ai society somewhere far away.
The PDF file gives full details for creating a salsham'ai character, but there are some other options that salsham'ai characters may wish to take, given below.
Skill Of Raindrops
The Skill of Raindrops, or Raindrop Style, is a fighting style that combines speed and agility to avoid an opponent’s attacks and deliver precise strikes where they will cause the greatest effect. The most feared ability of the Skill of Raindrops practitioner is the ability to deliver strikes to the meridians to disrupt a target’s Pas Aat and produce debilitating effects. Most salsham’ai soldiers are taught the basic way of fighting, and many Pas Aat spellcasters use it as a self-defence technique. Human perceptions of the salshma’ai notwithstanding, however, only a few salsham’ai are true masters of the technique.
1st level skill bonus: Tumble
1st level bonus feat: Pas Aat Strike
2nd level bonus feat: Dodge
6th level bonus feat: Pas Aat Strike, Greater
6th level bonus ability: If you make a Pas Aat Strike or Stunning Fist attack against a character denied his Dex-bonus to armour class, you gain a +2 bonus to the DC of the saving throw for the attack.
Prerequisites: Tumble 9 ranks, Weapon Finesse.
Spider In Amber
The Spider in Amber fighting style is a wrestling technique that uses the small size and prehensile feet of the salsham’ai to good advantage when grappling larger opponents. The name of the style describes both the opponent becoming ensnared as a spider trapped in amber, and the way that the Spider in Amber practitioner is like a spider climbing over her opponent.
1st level skill bonus: Escape Artist
1st level bonus feat: Improved Grapple
2nd level bonus feat: Spider Wrestling
6th level bonus feat: Pas Aat Strike
6th level bonus ability: You gain a +2 bonus to all attacks and skill checks taken whilst grappling.
Prerequisites: Tumble 4 ranks, Escape Artist 9 ranks.
The following feats are suitable for a salsham'ai character, although some can be used by characters of any race.
Enhanced Camouflage [Salsham’ai]
Your natural camouflage ability has a greater range of tones.
Benefit: Your natural ability to change your skin tones has a greater range of colour. The racial bonus to Hide is +6 regardless of the surroundings.
Normal: The racial bonus to Hide is +4 in natural surroundings and +2 otherwise.
Fast Climber [General]
You are able to climb at an accelerated rate.
Prerequisite: Dex 15+
Benefit: Due to superior climbing ability you are able to climb at double speed without penalty. If you are of a race that has a base climb speed you may also climb at triple your climb rate by taking a -5 penalty to Climb checks. You can maintain this triple speed for the same duration as a run x3 movement rate. You cannot use this feat if your movement rate has been reduced through armour or encumbrance.
Creatures without a listed climb speed normally climb at one quarter of their base rate. With this feat they may climb at one half of their base movement rate without penalty.
Normal: Characters can normally climb at double speed with a -5 penalty to the Climb check, and may not travel at triple speed.
You are able to use your feet as well as your hands for manipulating objects.
Benefit: When using your feet to manipulate items you take no penalty to any check required.
Normal: A salsham’ai normally takes a -4 penalty to any check made using the feet to manipulate.
Special: This feat does not remove the need for the salsham’ai to use other limbs for stability. This feat does not remove any penalties relating to two-weapon fighting.
Pas Aat Strike [Pas Aat]
Using your knowledge of Pas Aat meridians, you are able to deliver precise, debilitating strikes to your opponent. Alternatively, you may manipulate the Pas Aat meridians to remove debilitations.
Prerequisite: Wis 13+, Stunning Fist
Benefit: When you make an unarmed attack you may declare before-hand that you wish to perform a Pas Aat strike, and what effect you wish to achieve. If your attack succeeds, your opponent must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 +1/2 your character level + your Wisdom modifier) or suffer one of the following conditions that you choose for 1 round per four of your character levels: dazed, deafened, fatigued or sickened. This counts as one of your daily uses of Stunning Fist, regardless if the attack misses or if the target saves.
Alternatively, a Pas Aat strike can be used to cure any of the above conditions. If the condition is caused by disease or spell, then the Pas Aat striker must make an attack roll to beat the save DC of the condition, otherwise the attempt automatically succeeds at the cost of one use of Pas Aat strike. This causes no damage to the target - the "strike" is a pinpoint touch.
The Pas Aat Strike is a supernatural ability.
Special: Monks who follow the Skill of Raindrops or Spider in Amber styles may select this as a bonus feat.
Pas Aat Strike, Greater [Pas Aat]
Your ability to affect the condition of targets using Pas Aat strikes is increased.
Prerequisite: Wis 13+, Pas Aat Strike, Stunning Fist
Benefit: This feat works in exactly the same fashion as Pas Aat Strike, except that the following conditions may also be induced or cured: blinded, exhausted, nauseated, paralyzed.
Greater Pas Aat Strike is a supernatural ability.
Spider Wrestling [General]
You compensate for your size when grappling larger opponents.
Prerequisite: Small size or less, Improved Grapple
Benefit: When grappling with opponents of larger size than you, your size counts as one higher for the purposes of a grapple check. For example, if you are Small, grappling a Large opponent, your size counts as Medium, thus your grapple modifier is +0 rather than -4. Your opponent’s modifier does not change (in this example, +4).
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