To most people of Conclave, the ssth-gar are a legend, a rumour of a mysterious race of serpent-people who live on islands in the north-east seas and rule a cruel empire driven by slaves. It is said that the mysterious Ptorac traders, with their lemon-sailed ships and their strange serpentine demeanour, are the servants of the ssth-gar, proxies dealing with other races and procuring slaves for their masters. Some say that the ptorac are but the first stages of the ssth-gar, becoming more reptilian as they undergo strange rituals. Few people have ever seen a ssth-gar, and no solid facts are known about them. Many people believe them to be a myth, an invention of the ptorac and wandering sailors to frighten land-folk.

But the ssth-gar are very real.

Ssth-Gar, Medium Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)
Initiative: +7
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), swim 30 ft, climb 20 ft.
Armor Class: 17 (+3 Dex, +2 armour, +2 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+6
Attack: Scimitar +6 melee (1d6+2) or dagger +6 melee (1d4+2 plus poison) or shortbow +7 ranged (1d6)
Full Attack: Scimitar +6 melee (1d6+2) and bite +1 melee (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Poison-use, spell-use
SQ Darkvision 60.ft, immune to sleep and paralysis, ssth-gar mastery
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +6
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 14
Skills: Bluff +9, Climb +11, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Listen +9, Sense Motive +9, Spot +9, Swim +10
Feats: Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes
Environment: Any Sub-Tropical
Organization: Single, pair or cluster (2-8)
Challenge Rating: 4
Advancement: By character class

Combat: Ssth-gar prefer to use minions to do their fighting, but they are by no means incompetent. They prefer to use their magic to neutralise enemy spellcasters first, then powerful warriors second. The ssth-gar have no compunction against fleeing to save their own skin. Their main weakness in battle is their refusal to work together.

Immunities (Ex): Ssth-gar are immune to sleep and paralysis effects.

Poison Use (Ex): Ssth-gar are experts at the use of poison, and never risk poisoning themselves with poisoned weapons. The ssth-gar given here has treated its weapons with black adder venom (Injury, DC 11, 1d6 Con primary and secondary).

Ssth-Gar Mastery (Su): The ssth-gar are adept at creating or moulding life to their requirements, and have absolute control over their creations through a mix of neural programming and pheromones. No ptorac, saman or other ssth-gar creation may ever knowingly harm a ssth-gar, nor disobey an order from one.

Skills: Ssth-gar have a +8 racial bonus to Swim checks, and may always Take 10 when swimming even when rushed or threatened. A Stth-gar also has a +8 racial bonus to Climb and may similarly always Take 10 when climbing, even when rushed or threatened. A ssth-gar uses its Dexterity score modifier for Climb.

Spell Use: Ssth-gar can cast spells as a 4th level sorcerer. Spells typically known are: 0th level - acid splash, daze, detect magic, detect poison, mage hand, touch of fatigue; 1st level - charm person, colour spray, disguise self; 2nd level - daze monster;

Using the Ssth-Gar
The ssth-gar are an archetypal Mysterious Reptilian Race, living in their tropical island fastnesses and preying on other races. Contrary to popular perception, the ssth-gar are not a race of 'snake-people'. In fact, they are draconic in origin, but their slender bodies and fondness for poisons may have given rise to the mistaken belief that they are associated with snakes.

A ssth-gar has an elongated, sinuous reptilian body with small, slender, almost vestigial arms and legs. The head is more like a cayman than a snake, with a long snout filled with small needle-sharp teeth. The ssth-gar have black and dark-green scales, with golden patterns on their faces that are distinctive to each individual. Warriors and low-ranking ssth-gar usually wear a leather harness or leather armour designed to fit their narrow forms. Higher ranking ssth-gar (which most of the race consider themselves to be), dress in an array of elaborate costumes, layers of rich fabrics and ornamentation draped over their bodies. Costumes that inhibit the use of the arms are considered to show Exalted rank since it demonstrates that the individual has servants to perform manual tasks for it. Ssth-gar enjoy water, and like to bathe in the volcanically-heated pools of their homelands, or bask in steam given off by volcanic vents.

To all intents and purposes ssth-gar are genderless. They are a dying race, the last few thousand individuals clinging to life through rituals and their natural longevity. They do not reproduce, and have long forgotten if they ever did. It may be that the remaining ssth-gar are all of one gender that destroyed the other, or that they are, like some other races of Conclave, creatures that reproduce through magical ritual. For whatever reasons, all ssth-gar seem to be of the same, genderless type and no new ssth-gar have been created for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years.

The ssth-gar have a highly regimented society, but one that allows for considerable infighting and backbiting for positions of power. Supreme rulership of the ssth-gar race belongs to Ma-Coer, a self-created draconic god who seldom appears in person before its people. The temporal ruler is the Grand Sisk, a huge, bloated snake-like ssth-gar blessed with immortality. Below the Grand Sisk are layers of nobles whose exact positions are decided by a mixture of magical ability, political ability and level of development. The ssth-gar undertake complex rituals to increase their devotion to Ma-Coer, and to enhance their natural and supernatural abilities, and the further along this Path of Ascension that a ssth-gar is, the more influence it can wield in ssth-gar society.

The ssth-gar lands are a chain of volcanic islands in the north-eastern seas, stretching between the Inner Continent, Perfection, and the Outer Continent, Fallen Sun. The ssth-gar rarely leave these islands, preferring to leave this task to the ptorac and the saman. Their capital is an island known as Hass-Allar, an island completely encircled by a sea-filled caldera that forms a barrier against the outside world. Hass-Allar can only be reached by a few well-defended tunnels through the walls of the outer caldera.

There are many rare products found on the ssth-gar islands, most of which are traded with the outside world via the ptorac traders. These products include various rare spices and minerals needed for the manufacture of magic items and for use as spell components. The ssth-gar manufacture many magical goods themselves, some of which they sell to outsiders. Magical cloaks are a common ssth-gar item, and in Conclave the boots and cloaks of 'elvenkind' are instead ssth-gar boots and cloaks, normally granted to minions acting as spies and infiltrators.

Ssth-gar Ascendant
The ssth-gar ascendant is a ssth-gar who has undergone some of the complex rituals of ascendancy ordained by the worship of Ma-Coer. A ssth-gar ascendant gains mastery over powers wielded by Ma-Coer, as well as developing towards a fully draconic form. Only those loyal to Ma-Coer may undertake the rituals, but apostate ssth-gar have found ways of mimicking the powers of the ssth-gar ascendant. Quite often, these apostate ssth-gar gravitate towards the Dragon Disciple prestige class.

Ssth-gar Ascendant LevelBase AttackFortitudeReflexWillSpecial
1+1+0+1+1Draconic blood, +2 natural armour, Spirit of Ma-Coer 1 (energy substitution)
2+2+0+1+1Draconic ascension (claws), water breathing
3+3+1+2+2+2 Int, spirit of Ma-Coer (immunity)
4+4+1+2+2Draconic ascension (tail), spirit of Ma-Coer (boost)
5+5+1+3+3+2 natural armour, spirit of Ma-Coer (aura)
6+6+2+3+3+2 Cha, draconic ascension (wings)
7+7+2+4+4Spirit of Ma-Coer 2 (shadow-walk)
8+8+2+4+4Draconic ascension (Large)
9+9+3+5+5+2 Wis, spirit of Ma-Coer (burst)
10+10+3+5+5Draconic apotheosis, spirit of Ma-Coer 3 (boost, extend aura)
Hit Die: d8
Skill points: 6 + Int bonus per level
Class Skills: Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Diplomacy, Hide, Intimidate, Knowledge (any), Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, Spot, Swim, Use Magic Device.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Ssth-gar ascendant grants no extra proficency in weapons or armour.

Draconic Blood: Levels of ssth-gar ascendant stack with levels of sorcerer for the purposes of determining caster level for spells, extra spells and spell slots. They stack with the existing sorcerer abilities granted by ssth-gar hit dice as well as any levels of sorcerer that the ssth-gar may also have taken.

Natural Armour: Each time a ssth-gar ascendant is granted a natural armour bonus this stacks with existing natural armour.

Spirit of Ma-Coer (Su): At 1st level a ssth-gar ascendant chooses to express one of the powers of the draconic god Ma-Coer. They must select from dread presence, shadowfire and vitriol. Whenever they cast a spell that causes damage of an energy type they may replace the energy type according to their power. Each power grants a secondary effect to the spell as well. If the spell grants a saving throw, the secondary effect requires a second save of the same DC to avoid, even if the primary effect is saved against. If the spell does not normally grant a saving throw, the secondary effect still grants one.

Dread presence channels the awesome roar of the dragon god. It causes half sonic damage and half unholy damage, and the secondary effect leaves the target shaken if it fails to save.

Shadowfire burns with an eery green-black flame, that chills rather than burns. It causes half cold and half unholy damage, and the secondary effect leaves the target fatigued.

Vitriol is a fuming acidic bile that causes half acid and half unholy damage, and causes the target to become sickened as a secondary effect.

The secondary effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to half the number of levels of ssth-gar ascendant that the caster possesses (minimum 1).

At 7th level the ssth-gar ascendant may select another power to channel and apply its effects. At 10th level the ssth-gar ascendant may use all three powers.

At 3rd level the ssth-gar ascendant becomes immune to damage of the energy type caused by its Ma-Coer power. e.g. A ssth-gar ascendant with the shadowfire power becomes immune to cold. Ssth-gar ascendants with mutiple powers gain immunity to all energy types. They do not get immunity to unholy damage.

At 4th level the secondary effect of all powers possessed by the ssth-gar ascendant become boosted. Dread presence now leaves the target frightened if it fails to save. Shadowfire leaves the target exhausted and vitriol causes the target to become nauseated. A ssth-gar ascendant may always choose to use the weaker version of the secondary effect.

At 5th level the ssth-gar ascendant may, as a swift action, emit any powers that it knows as an aura that causes 4d6 damage (of the type normally caused by the power) to any creatures adjacent to the ssth-gar ascendant. In addition, anyone taking damage from the aura must also save against the secondary effect. This is a Fortitude save with a DC equal to half the ssth-gar ascendant's hit dice plus Charisma modifier. A ssth-gar ascendant may maintain the aura for a number of rounds per day equal to its class levels. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

At 7th level the ssth-gar ascendant may transport itself via shadow or shadowfire-enhanced spells. Shadow walking works like dimension door but the ssth-gar must enter and exit via an area of shadowy illumination. As a move action, a ssth-gar may dimension door 20 ft. for every level of ssth-gar ascendant it possesses. To travel via shadowfire enhanced spell, the ssth-gar ascendant must cast a spell with range that can be altered to shadowfire. The ssth-gar vanishes from its current position and appears at the target point of the spell. It appears after any damaging effects have been calculated. A ssth-gar may use a combination of either method no more than three times per day.

At 8th level the ssth-gar ascendant may create a burst of any one of its Ma-Coer powers. It can target the burst on any point up to 100 ft. away, and the effect is a 30 ft. radius blast of the relevant energies that causes 1d8 damage per level of ssth-gar ascendant. A Reflex save for half damage is allowed, with a DC equal to 10 + half the ssth-gar's total hit die plus Charisma modifier.

At 10th level the ssth-gar ascendant gets an additional boost to the secondary effects of its Ma-Coer powers. Its dread presence can now cause 1d6 Wisdom damage, shadowfire causes 1d6 Strength damage and vitriol causes 1d6 Constitution damage. These are in addition to the other secondary effects, but one saving throw is sufficient to avoid all secondary effects.

Also at 10th level the ssth-gar's aura ability now extends to 30 ft. from its body.

Water breathing (Ex): The ssth-gar ascendant gains permanent water breathing ability.

Draconic Ascension (Ex): As the ssth-gar ascendant becomes more powerful, it develops more draconic physical traits. At 2nd level it develops claws that are treated as primary natural weapons that cause 1d6 damage. At 4th level its tail grows longer and develops horny plates. It may be used as a secondary natural weapon causing 1d6 damage. At 6th level the ssth-gar ascendant develops wings, giving it a flight speed of 60 ft. with average maneuvrability. At 8th level the ssth-gar grows to Large size, granting it +8 to Strength, +4 to Constitution and +2 to natural armour. Its natural weapon damage increases one die size, it suffers -2 Dexterity and a -1 size penalty to armour class and attack rolls. At 10th level the ssth-gar grows again to Huge size, gaining a further +8 to Strength, +4 to Constitution and +3 to natural armour. Natural attack damage increases another die size, and it suffers an additional -2 penalty to Dexterity and -1 size penalty to armour class and attack polls.

Draconic Apotheosis (Ex): At 10th level, a ssth-gar ascendant's type changes to Dragon. Hit dice, skill points, base attack bonus and saves are not affected.

Ssth-gar Weapons
The ssth-gar have a range of 'living' weapons that they employ, some of which are granted to trusted minions. All ssth-gar are proficient with ssth-gar weapons, which are treated as exotic to other races (even ssth-gar minion races). These are never sold to outsiders.

CostDamage (M)CriticalRange IncrementWeightType
Serpent-Tooth Ring5 gp (500 yen)1x2-**P
Venom-Lash100gp (10,000 yen)1d4 nonlethalx2-4 lb.S
Dart-Spitter400 gp (40,000 yen)1d619-20/x270 ft.1 lb.P
Seeker500 gp (50,000 yen)1d3x2special**P
** Negligible weight.

Dart-Spitter: The dartspitter resembles a snake-like creature that entwines around the user's forearm. It fires a tooth-like dart in response to a subtle signal from the user. Because the dart-spitter is able to use its own senses as well as those of the user, it grants a +1 equipment bonus to attack rolls. A dart-spitter can be used to make iterative attacks by users with a +6 or greater base attack bonus. A dart-spitter can hold up to 24 darts in a sac-like organ, and can regenerate one dart per hour, provided it is fed and watered.

Upkeep for a dart-spitter costs 1 sp (10 yen) per day, and a dart-spitter will die in 1d4 days if not fed. It will not regenerate darts on a day that it is not fed. Some dart-spitters come with poison glands. These glands provide enough poison to coat 6 darts per day, and cost double the value for a dose of whatever poison they contain.

Seeker: Seekers are semi-autonomous living constructs resembling a cross between a hornet and a hypodermic needle. It order to use a seeker, the user must undergo a seeker graft; a patch of life-sculpted tissue that fits over one eye and the side of the head like a thin layer of reptilian skin. The seeker graft allows the user to designate a target for the seeker and, once chosen, the seeker continues to attack that target until the target is dead (whereupon the seeker becomes inert), the user chooses a new target, it is destroyed or the wearer of the seeker graft is killed. Seekers use their own attack bonus of +8 rather than the user's ranged attack modifier, and after choosing the target the user need not concentrate on the seeker. Choosing a new target is a swift action. They are loaded with poison, which they can administer up to 10 doses before needing to be recharged (the exact poison can be chosen by the user). A seeker is classed as a fine construct, with AC 22 (+4 Dex, +8 size), 1 hit point, attack bonus +8, Hide +20, Move Silently +12, flight speed 70 ft. (perfect).

The target of a seeker needs to be in sight of the seeker's controller when first designated as a target, but from then on there is no maximum range between the seeker and its controller; a controller can set a seeker off and then leave the area, confident that the seeker will do its job, and aware of all that the seeker does through the seeker graft.

Upkeep for a seeker costs 1 sp (10 yen) per day, and a seeker will die in 1d4 days if not fed. Poison costs per dose are as per normal costs.

Serpent-Tooth Ring: A simple ring, with a hidden needle, used for delivering poison. A serpent tooth ring only requires a touch attack to successfully use, and holds one dose of a chosen poison.

Venom-Lash: A living creature formed into a whip-like weapon with a stinger on the tip. A venom-lash functions in all ways like a standard whip except that its stinger contains up to 6 doses of a poison selected by the life-sculptor that created it. Upkeep for a venom-lash costs 1 sp (10 yen) per day, and a venom-lash will die in 1d4 days if not fed. It will not regenerate poison on a day that it is not fed.

Ssth-gar Armour
Although ssth-gar wear all manner of standard forms of armour, the high-ranking members of the race do not usually deign to enter physical combat. Their ceremonial robes, however, provide a measure of protection against attack. All forms of ssth-gar ceremonial robes take as long as full plate armour to don, and a ssth-gar normally has at least one servant to help it dress.
CostArmour BonusMaximum Dex BonusArmour Check PenaltyArcane Spell Failure ChanceWeight
Ceremonial Robes125gp (12,500 yen)+2-10%10 lb.
Exalted Robes300gp (30,000 yen)+4+4-2*10%15 lb.
*Exalted robes have no sleeves, leaving the ssth-gar with no means to use its arms for skills requiring manipulation. An exalted ssth-gar is so important that it has servants to perform all manual tasks for it, or it uses magic.
Ssth-gar Religions
Ma-Coer, The True Way. A self-actualised draconic god of the ssth-gar, Ma-Coer is held as the ideal for all ssth-gar and ssth-gar minions to try to attain. His religion is a mystery cult, imparting little of its actual teachings to acolytes but holding out the promise of greater power as one moves through the ranks. Ma-Coer offers the domains of Charm, Magic, Scalykind and Water. Clerics of Ma-Coer usually wield a needleknife. Ma-Coer is usually represented as a dragon's eye.

Shai-Tar, The One Who Will Lead. Although primarily a forbidden cult amongst the ptorac, some ssth-gar follow this entity who promises the attainment of power without the intercession Ma-Coer. Worship of Shai-Tar is punishable by death in ssth-gar society. As with Ma-Coer, there are little in the way of tenets or mythology, just the simple appeasement of a powerful being for a taste of that power in return. Shai-Tar offers the domains of Fire, Nobility, Strength and Trickery. Its clerics also use the needleknife, but Shai-Tarites prefer the obsidian tipped variety. Shai-Tar is rarely depicted, although fiery symbolism, or a fist wreathed in flames, are sometimes employed. If you have access to the Book of Vile Darkness, some followers of Shai-Tar may take levels of the Disciple of Mephistopholes or Thrall of Graz'zt prestige classes. The fact that one is a devil and the other a demon makes no difference in Conclave where evil all has the same root - the Netherworld. Whether Shai-Tar is an aspect of these beings that has entered Conclave, or whether it is a simple matter of similar mechanics is a mystery for the GM to decide.

For needleknife statistics, see the article on Ptorac.

The Saman
The saman are brute servitors created by the ssth-gar life-sculptors. Sometimes they accompany ptorac as bodyguards or enforcers, and they are often used to crew the black-hulled galleys of ptorac slavers. Centuries of cultural indoctrination have given the saman unshakeable loyalty to the ptorac and the ssth-gar. They use standard lizardfolk stats, and their scales are black and orange mottled. The ssth-gar find them a great delicacy.
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