Seven Cities Classes: Ushum Mara
For years mankind feared us. They called us demon, monsters, and that most sufferable off all insults lizardmen, but we are the Ushum Mara: the Children of the Snake Desert.
Once we were tribe, we were warriors, and yes we warred with mankind, and raided their lands, but it was the tribal wars, the duels of dominance, that we lived for. Hunting enemies of our own kind was the greatest proof of honour we knew. Many tribes allied with the Godslaves, or men as they name themselves, to fight our real enemies. In time every tribe allied itself with a human city and those that wouldn’t or couldn’t soon fell under the yoke of those that would. Thus did the seven tribes and seven cities rise and fall together.
That was until the great death swept across snake desert killing all that once lived there, and banishing the tribes from the beloved sands of our ancestors. Now we serve as guardians of their holy dwelling places. None may enter the presence of the gods without our permission for we are the guardians of the living gods. We are the Ushum Mara
The Ushum Mara are a Tribal warrior society of intelligent humanoid reptiles. Uniquely they are also the only people immune to the effects of Divine Awe. Because of this they are able to serve as personal and temple guards to the gods. They do this out of a beholden sense of duty as it was the gods who allowed, and helped them to relocate from the temple to the cities when Snake Desert became inhospitable. Duties include guarding the entrance to the temple precinct ensuring only Asipu, and those on official palace or temple business, may enter. They also guard every temple entrance and the doors to the inner sanctums, the dwelling places of the divine. Even the high priest of the city must defer to them on the issue of if and when anyone may enter the presence of the gods. They also attend to gods if they desire to travel about the city or further afield.
This closeness to the divine means they see and know more of the god’s lives than anyone else in the city. So much so that they are often approached with offers of riches in exchange for news, gossip, information, and even keepsakes from god crazed devotes, or enemies disguised as god crazed devotees.
Although they are all humanoids and walk upright on two legs the tribes of the Ushum Mara represent a wide spectrum of mundane Lizard forms with varied examples of different body types and a lot of variety in scale patterns and colours. Small and lithe Skinks and Geckos, the various average sized Lizards and Chameleons, and the larger Monitor lizards represent the three main body type of Ushu Maru characters . . .
USHUM MARA SIZE TABLE
1 - Small - 1 St +1 Dex 1d8 HD +1 Individual Initiative
2-4 Medium - No adjustments 1d10 HD
6 - Large +1 St -1 Dex 1d12 HD -1 Individual initiative
These sizes also affect the type of ancestral weapon (see below) the Character wields.
Naturally tough skin is AC5 and counts as unarmoured for encumbrance. Ushum Mara do not wear any armour and do not need clothes, but male and females both wear elaborate and highly decorative short plaited leather kilts. These skirts are stylised and covered with stark designs and gaudy colourings that identify their tribal and city allegiance. These decorations can be identified by other Ushum Mara and members of the learned Asipu caste.
Ushum Mara characters are totally alien to humans and many consider them to be monstrous. This means Ushum Mara characters cannot recruit hirelings or henchmen. Their maximum CHR score is 12. If they have a CON of 13 or higher they gain a 5% XP bonus. If they have a CON of 16 or higher they gain a 10% XP bonus. Ushum Mara’s levels cap at 8th after that they only add +2 HP per level.
Other than their tribal kilt Ushum Mara do not wear clothes and thus will not wear armour. Unlike humans when unarmed they can fight with tooth and claw for 1d4dam. Otherwise they will only fight with the ancestral weapons they are gifted with, or craft themselves when they come of age. (See below).
Ushum Mara have guard duty of 5 to 40 hours per week (5 hours per level). Their status determines the type of duties they must perform with low status warriors guarding the outer gates and high status Ushum Mara serving the gods themselves.
Reptilian Traits Table
Each character has three rolls on the Reptilian Traits table. If the same ability is rolled more than once roll again. At 4th and 8th level the traits increase in effectiveness (numbers in parentheses represent bonuses, penalties, etc. at 1st/4th/8th level.
Roll 1D20 . . .
1 Pineal Eye - a third, basal, eye is located on top of the skull. It is covered with a thin layer of skin so cannot be seen by others. It is a very primitive organ and cannot discern shapes, colours, details etc. but it can detect light and darkness changes above and it an movement making it harder for the player to be surprised by fliers, or other attacks from directly above (like an assassin on the rooftops for example). -1 to be surprised/ -2 surprised/ Cannot be surprised by attack from above).
2 Chamilic - Active Camouflage where the skin and scales react to background colours allowing the character to blend in with their surroundings. This gives them them a 25%/50%/75% chance to remain unseen if they keep still and silent and -1/-2/-3 (on enemy’s surprise roll) to any individual attempt to surprise.
3 Clawed - all lizards have claws but your character has fighting claws and is naturally skilled with them. 1 attack as 1d4+1 dam/ 2 attacks/ 3 attacks. Claws can also be enhanced with a glove of blades,venom, magical, or divine means.
4 Jaws - Roll 1d4 . . .
1 - Bite: Needle like teeth that can bite for small amount of damage (1d4/1d6/1d8) as a free attack against any foe in melee range.
2 - Clamp: Can bite down with such force that the target cannot escape the characters grip. (+1/+2/+3 to hit). Whilst a limb is grasped in the jaw the enemy can only try and break free (Save vs Paralysis) or attack the PC at a disadvantage (at -1/-2/-3 to hit). If the limb that has been bitten is the limb the enemy use to wield their weapon they can only use unarmed damage.
3 - Venomous: Your saliva is full of toxins and your teeth have evolved to let that saiva drain into wounds caused by your bite (Dam 1d6+1/1d6+2/1d6+3). The victim must also save vs poison at -1/0/+1 or die. Making save means they survive but too ill to fight on. If they survive the combat they are still extremely ill and suffer -1 penalty on all rolls until they are able to rest up for a month or receive healing of some sort.
4 -Paralysis: You can bite once per round (1d6 dam +1/+2/+3 to hit) and your victim must save or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds/1d6 turns/1d8 hours.
5 Agile - gripping claws, a tail for balance, and a lean and flexible body mean you are more agile than most +1 to individual Initiative. Can also move and perform at normal speed over tricky or dangerous terrain. For example an agile Ushum Mara could cross a bamboo pole over a chasm as effortlessly as anyone else could cross a bridge over the same obstacle.
6 Burst Speed - Stored energy can be burnt through for a burst of speed when needed. This can be used to charge in and attack the enemy (requires at least a twenty-foot run up on foe) Allows character to attack 1st, even if on the side that lost initiative roll, for +1/+2/+3 to hit and damage) or to use that burst of energy to break free from any melee attacker and move twice their maximum movement at full speed without any penalties associated with running from melee opponents as long as they move away from any combatants.
This burst can be used once a day and after using it the character will be sluggish (-1 to all rolls) until they get the chance to bask in sunlight, or some other form of warmth.
7 Ostaderm - Bone deposits under the scales make for formidable natural armour (AC 2/1/0)
8 Fat Tail - The tail is thick and full of fatty deposits and water that the character can rely on in times of trouble. (1 day/week/month equivalent of rations).
9 Wall walker - special pads on the character’s feet allow them to climb any surface, even smooth surfaces such as glass or metal, as easily as they would walk on the floor. Gives a +1/+2/+3 bonus to chance to surprise when on walls or ceilings.
10 Prehensile Tail - Not dextrous enough to manipulate tools, or brandish weapons but can grip and carry things. It also allows the character to hang from their tail leaving them free to use their other limbs
11 Club tail - The end of your whip like tail is a ball of hardened bone, scale, and spikes that can do tremendous damage especially to heavily armoured foes. 1/2/3 attacks per round at 1d8 damage with a bonus of +1/+2/+3 dam to those wearing medium to heavy armour due to crushing.
12 Patagium - you have a thin membrane or proto-wings that stretch from wrist to ankle allowing you to glide travelling up to 100/200/300/ feet whilst losing 60/40/20 foot of altitude. You are naturally able to stick any landings gliding from rooftop to rooftop, tree to tree or from one point of the city’s zigurat to another as long as it falls within the distance you can glide.
You can also glide down from above and attack an opponent for a +1/+2/+3 to hit and dam bonus on melee attacks.
13 Neck Frill - A large ruff of skin folded around the neck and supported by cartilage spikes attached to the jaw. This frill can be opened up as part of an intimidating and confusing display which cause uncertainty in attackers forcing a morale check (at +1/+2/+3) before combat even begins. All further morale checks also apply this penalty.
14 Head Crest - An impressive crest atop the head. Very distinguished (+1/+2/+3 on all reaction rolls additional +2 with other Usum Mara and reptilian NPCs or monsters).
15 Webbed Hands & Feet - Can maneuver in and underwater as ably as on land. Bonus to hit and AC (+1/+2/+3) against those who aren't equally comfortable in aquatic situations.
16 - Regenerative - To escape an enemy who has hold of the character they can ‘shed’ a limb. This is so dramatic and startling the enemy is confused enough to allow you to make your escape. Intelligent foes may pursue 1d4 rounds later. Predatory foes are more likely to chow down on the shed limb than to give chase. This escape maneuver is not without its drawbacks causing the character to take 6/3/2 HPs worth of damage (But won’t reduce HP below 1) and taking 1 Month/1 Week/1 Day to regenerate the missing limb. During this time of regeneration all rolls are at -3/-2/-1 penalty due to imbalance and pain caused by the missing limb and its regrowth (Penalty only starts after the initial adrenaline surge of the escape wears off).
17 - Ballistic Tongue - You have a tongue that can shoot out at tremendous speeds and up to a distance of 12 feet. It is extremely accurate (+1/+2/+3 to hit) has a club like bone tip that does minimal damage (1d4/1d4+1/1d4+2) but the blow always targets the head and causes any foe who misses their save vs Paralysis to be knocked unconscious for 1 full turn. If they make the save they will still be stunned for the next 1d4 combat rounds. Being stunned means they drop everything they are carrying, can’t attack and are at +2 AC and lose any Dex bonus.
18 - Eye Blood - Hot jets of blood squirt out of your eyes up to a distance of 50 feet and into the face of foes. The blood contains toxins that blinds the victim for 1d4 Combat Rounds/1d4 Turns/1d4 Days. Making a save vs Dragon Breath will reduce the duration of the blindness by 2 round/turns/days with a minimum duration of 1. This can also be used as a surprise attack that grants initiative to the character and his party.
19 - Independant Eyes - The character’s eyes protrude from the head in a cone-like eyeball that swivels to see all around. Not only that but they can see in two directions at once, which can be very handy and makes it hard for them to be surprised (bonus to surprise roll +1/+2/Can’t be surprised).
20 - Horned - The character is covered in bony spikes and horns. Anyone engaged in close quarters combat (using any weapon with the less reach than a sword) automatically takes 1d4/1d6/1d8 damage in the tussle.
Status among the Ushum Mara is very fluid and is based on combat and challenges. The more challenges they issue, accept and the more combats they win the higher their status. This duels are always formal and fought in front of the tribe, or both tribes of those fighting. Anyone who interferes in a duel (including gods) will be attacked by both tribes. The duals themselves are not to the death, but are fought as normal fights with being reduced to 0HPs representing defeat rather than death.
Status is reflected in the colouring of their scales which becomes brighter and more colourful as status rises, duller and drabber as it falls. Lower status Ushum Mara must always defer to and follow the orders of higher status warriors or challenge and fight them. Higher status also comes with less and better duties in the temple, and more luxury and and payment from the Asipu for those duties.
Newly rolled Ushum Mara are considered to have just come of age and start with a status of 0. For every challenge they issue it increases by 1. For every challenge they accept it increases by 1. If they accept or issue challenges to Ushum Mara of a higher status the increase is 2 points. If they refuse a challenge they lose 2 points, 4 if the challenge was from someone of a lower status.
Status can only be gained by issuing challenges or accepting challenges to and from other Ushum Mara. However, status can be gained, or lost, from fighting duels with anyone. Winning a single combat against non Ushum Mara is an increase of 1. Winning against Ushum Mara of the same or lower status is an increase of 2. Winning against higher status Ushum Mara is an increase of 4. Losing against non Ushum Mara is a loss of 4 status points, losing against Ushum of the same or lower status is a loss of 2. Losing to Ushum Mara of higher status is a loss of 1.
Ushum Mara Status Scale
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10
Any Ushum Mara who reaches -10 must challenge a foe with a status of +5 or higher. If they win this fight their status will be reset at 0. If they lose they be will made pariah, their ancestral weapons will be destroyed, they will be expected to leave the tribe and take ‘the last walk into what was once the snake desert of their ancestors, but is now known simply as the desert of the dead (better name).
Anyone who reaches status +10 will become a Tribal Champion and their status can never drop below +8 afterwards no matter how many duels they lose. They may refuse any challenge from anyone with a status of +7 or less but they must issue one challenge a month to Champions of the other six tribes, and fight in the annual festival of death in honor of the gods of their city.
Ushum Mara ancestral weapons are primitive and fearsome. The Ushum Mara do not possess the human knowledge of bronze working and are dismissive of humans and their shiny swords. Their weapons are made of wood, bone, flint and stone and often edged with the teeth of their fallen foes. When an Ushum Mara comes of age (all 1st level Ushum Mara characters) they are gifted any available ancestral weapons by their tribal elders. If they somehow lose their weapon they must go on a blood quest to appease the ancestors by winning a duel (with someone the same or higher status) and then cfracting their new weapon which will always start with the envious trait (see below).
Ancestral Weapon Traits Table
Roll 1d20 . . .
1 *Envious - It feels slighted at the glory of the tribe’s other weapons and thirsts for blood. +1 to hit.
2 Storied - This is an ancient and venerable weapon once carried by a great Ushum Mara hero +1 permanent Status bonus. If it is lost or destroyed, or you ever surrender it you will suffer a -4 permanent Status penalty.
3 Greedy - This weapon hungers for the souls of enemies. -2 to all reaction rolls when this weapon is visible.
4 Brutal - The spirit of this weapon sings with joy when it damages the flesh of foes. +1 damage.
5 Angry - This weapon is always ready to strike first. +1 to individual and group initiative.
6 Swift - This weapon is eager to strike, and strike often. +1 extra attack per combat round.
7 Evil - This dark hearted weapon pulses with malice. Anyone struck by it must save vs poison if they fail they lose 1HP per combat round until they can be healed.
8 Cruel - This weapon wants to see foes suffer before they die. Anyone hit must save vs Paralysis or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds.
9 Untrustworthy - This weapon is not to be trusted. Owner can make a surprise sneak attack on unsuspecting enemies, no surprise, initiative, or to-hit roll needed.
10 Lazy - Why work for a kill? Guides owner to attack enemy with the lowest AC.
11 Cunning - This crafty weapon can find weakness in any armour. +1 to hit armoured foes.
12 Stalwart - This weapon will defend you. -1 AC
13 Intimidating - Even by Ushum Mara standards this weapon looks frightening. +1 to all morale checks and against non-Ushum Mara forces a morale check before combat even starts.
14 Lusty - This weapon wants to see blood. +1 to hit against unarmored and lightly armoured foes.
15 Bully - This weapon loves to punish the weak. Guides owner to attack the enemy with the lowest HP’s first.
16 Jealous - Hates other weapons. First successful hit always disarms enemy instead of doing damage.
17 Hungry - This weapon wants to feed. The first time it deals damage the wielder gains a temporary HP increase equal to the damage dealt that lasts as long as the combat does.
18 Vengeful - This weapon will brook no insults. +1 damage to anyone who has dealt damage to its owner.
19 Mocking - This weapon laughs at the pitiful efforts of your foes. Always parries first successful attack against its owner.
20 Godslayer - This weapon is blasphemous - Can hurt gods and other supernatural foes who may only be be harmed by magic and magic weapons.
*This trait always applies to newly crafted Ancestral Weapons.
When an Ushum Mara character reaches, 4th, 8th level, becomes a champion, or dies in combat roll again on the table. If there is a duplicate result the player can either double the bonus or reroll for a different trait.
When an Ushum Mara dies his ancestral weapons can be handed down to that player’s, or the party’s, next Ushum Mara character (providing that character is the same size type). The new character doesn’t get an initial roll on the Ancestral Weapons Traits table, but does keep all the previous character’s weapon traits, and extra rolls when applicable.
Any single weapon may gain a maximum of 12 trait rolls in its lifetime no matter how many times it passed down through the generations.
The type of weapon inherited at character creation is randomly rolled for and dependent of the character’s size.
roll 1d6 . . .
1 Obsidian Daggers
2 War Bolas
3 Iron Wood Hand Club
4 Bone Javelins and thrower
5 Glove of Claws
6 Flint Handaxe
1 War Stone
2 Tooth sword and bone shield
3 Stabbing Spear and hide shield
4 War Club and wooden shield
5 Punch Sword
6 Obsidian Axe
1 War Shield
2 War Staff
3 Iron Wood Axe
4 Stone Sword
5 Great Spear
6 War Bow