- Cold hands, but a warm heart!
Of all the intelligent races, there are several that are aligned with animal spirits. The story of their origin is vague, but no matter where you go, the same general outline is agreed upon. That outline goes something like this:
In the Dawn Times, there were several civilized intelligent races. Who was the First Race is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that there were Elves, Dwarves, and Humans very early, followed closely by Gnomes and Halflings. For a very long time, these were the dominant races.
After the Dawn Times but still very long ago, there were many animal Gods who wished to also have a race of intelligent creatures to worship them. As a result, there came to be hundreds of intelligent races, many of them aligned with animal spirits. This was a period of great strife and chaos as all the multitude of races strove among themselves.
Eventually, the Gods decided there would be a great contest, and from the hundreds of intelligent animal races there would be chosen five, to match the number of the First Races. The details of the contest can be found in thousands of myths all over the world, but in the end, there were indeed five animal races chosen to Bear the Spark of Civility.
Those five races exist to this day. The races that lost the contest were understandably bitter, as they were relegated to a lesser role. Some races, like the centaurs, moldered away into decline. Other races embraced their lesser status as a matter of pride, like the gnolls.
Of the five races who won that Great Contest, all are available as player races, as they have the Spark.
One of those races is the Grippli.
Grippli are small and sturdy, with powerful builds and wide, perpetually smiling faces. Their skin is smooth and soft, and they frequently have pale bellies. Their hands and feet are large, soft, flexible, and just a tiny bit tacky. This trait, combined with their strength and agility, makes them superb climbers.
Grippli are stereotypically swamp dwellers, but unlike the Vanx, they really do need moist climates to thrive. They love swamps, bogs, sloughs, rain forests, and any place where there is steady precipitation. Their small stature and grinning faces belie their racial potency: Grippli are not to be taken lightly, as many a larger race has learned to their chagrin.
Grippli culture is shaped and dominated by their environment. Grippli, unlike most intelligent races, are greatly dependent upon a moist environment in which to live. Grippli thrive in swamps, marches, and bogs, anyplace where there is an ample supply of water year round. Grippli are not greatly affected by temperature, and as long as liquid water is available, they will be happy and prosperous.
Grippli are affected by dry climates, and will take twice the effects of other races from climatic effects for deserts, but take no ill effects whatsoever from wet climates.
Grippli like to live in tight-knit communities, either on their own in large communal villages, or as tight-knit enclaves inside a larger settlement. Grippli are inveterate fishers and finders of rare herbs and spices, and can eke out a living in seemingly utterly inhospitable climes. Grippli are possibly the most unusual looking among the races, being two to three feet tall with soft, slick skin. Their skin is usually mottled green, brown, and white. Some grippli have large protuberances on their skin, as well. They tend to be ivory white on the belly but not always. Their eyes are extremely large and can be very wideset, and can come in a variety of colors. Black eyes are the most common, with mottled yellow, mottled green, bright red, bright yellow-green, orange, and many other colors besides.
Grippli have large hands and feet, and their fingers are very pliable and can be extremely dexterous. Grippli have modest webs on their hands and fully webbed toes, which helps them when they are swimming. Grippli women only lay one clutch of eggs in their lives, and so they are quite particular about their mates. As a result, long, elegant courtships are very common among the grippli, before they finally 'tie the knot' as it were. Grippli are among the least 'humanoid looking' of the humanoid races, and many consider them quite ugly, but they more than make up for their homeliness with the romance in their souls. Grippli are hands-down the most romantic race out there, and exchanges of heart-felt gifts, love poetry, romantic walks and dinners, all are a staple in their long and elegant courtship process. Once grippli find 'the right one' they are transported with joy, and are sure to make the romance last a lifetime.
Grippli are quite unconventional in their family structure, as they form line families, where mated couples are all 'married' to each other, and they all live and raise their children together. Such line families can be quite large, with up to thirty or more mated grippli and dozens of children. As a result, grippli tend to place a lot more emphasis on the process of finding a suitable mate than they do to the strictures of marriage and child-rearing. Grippli are rarely unfaithful, however! Offending everyone in your line marriage is a very bad thing to do, and very few grippli will risk the utter social ostracism that comes from such deeds.
Growing Up Grippli
All grippli are raised communally. A mated grippli couple will begin a pregnancy in a fairly conventional way, but after a fairly short gestation, a grippli woman will lay a jelly-like mass of delicate transparent eggs, usually sixteen. These eggs are almost always laid in a small clear pool prepared in their household, typically in a secure area as far from trouble as they can manage. The eggs grow in the water, nourished by secretions the mother exudes into the pool, for three more years. During this process the eggs will slowly merge into one another until only four are left. At the end of this process, the four eggs rapidly develop into four grippli toddlers, which are perhaps the most adorable creatures that can exist.
Once the toddlers are hatched, their growth and development is much more conventional. Grippli count the day of their hatching as their birthdate, not the date they are laid, since only one fourth of the eggs laid actually hatch. Grippli grow to physical adulthood in ten years, and are mentally fully adult at the same age. Grippli age at the same rate as humans and have the same stages of childhood, adulthood, maturity and senescence. Grippli all live in large 'line' families, and tend to be quite content with that method of arranging their lives. Grippli live in fairly hazardous areas, and the line family arrangement ensures that no child is ever orphaned completely.
Grippli always make sure that there are a minimum of four line marriages in any of their settlements, so that young adult grippli who are looking to court a mate have a wide variety of potential mates to choose from. When they reach adulthood, young grippli will find every adult in their line marriage is acting as a matchmaker. Grippli courtships usually last for at least a decade, if not longer, as the two grippli involved get to know each other very thoroughly before marriage. The entire line marriage gets involved in every courtship, with much advice, discussion, and drama along the way. Most grippli find this attention and help to be very welcome, but the occasional malcontent grippli usually leaves quickly to escape the pressure to settle down.
Many grippli adventurers are such malcontents, although certainly not all. Grippli, despite their small stature and limited living space, are tremendous adventurers, with a curious, outgoing, and adventurous streak a mile wide.
Grippli do not make a major impact upon the larger economy they are contained within, but they definitely contribute in hundreds of less obtrusive ways. A major boon they provide is access to rare herbs. Grippli in a swamp can eventually turn up just about any of the craziest herbs you've ever heard of. Grippli also hunt alligators and crocodiles for food and for their impressively valuable hides.
Because Grippli live in places few other races can tolerate, they gain a lot of security from their neighbors, but that same difficulty in access lowers the amount of interaction with outsiders. Of the grippli that do travel outside their enclaves, they find ready employment. Grippli are valued and well paid for their climbing ability and the fact that unlike the Vanx, they tolerate salt water perfectly well. Indeed, many of the highest paid Grippli work for Vanx communities in brackish water, building and maintaining weirs and seawalls to lower the amount of salt that the Vanx have to tolerate.
Aside from Vanx, grippli are hugely in demand as sailors. Grippli can inspect a ships hull while it is under way, clamber in the rigging like they were born there, rescue people who are overboard, and perform a thousand other valuable services. Undine shipmasters love having grippli in their crew, because despite their diminutive size, grippli are among the toughest races in a fight, and that's always handy.
Human cities with harbors also tend to host a lot of grippli. Undines and vanx will not live in a busy harbor, because the water is less than...ideal. Grippli love it, and having a nice big village of grippli living under the docks ensures that you always have lots of grippli for ships crews and dockwork, as well as making sure nothing less pleasant moves in instead.
Grippli tend to be rather isolated from the sorts of events that other races find important, such as celebrations of the Sun or Summer, or veneration of the harvest season and supplications for it to go well. Grippli do not have a strong tradition of agriculture, instead foraging for a good portion of their food and hunting or trading for the rest. Instead, Grippli celebrate such things as the phases of the moon and how they affect the tide, and the ebb and flow of rivers.
As a consequence, Grippli have a lot of holidays that nobody else does, such as Neap and Spring Turning. Grippli are often having a celebration at times other races find odd, and vice versa. Because of this, Grippli have a rather unintentional reputation as 'party animals' who are likely to throw a celebration at any time, just for the fun of it. If Grippli habitat was just a bit more comfortable, they would likely 'host' many more Changelings than they do as a result of this reputation.
Add in the fact that Grippli have large 'line' marriages, so that even a birthday party is a big occasion, and it is easy to see why Grippli might seem to be an extremely jocular race. As for weddings, given the importance and prominence courtships and romance play in a Grippli's life, weddings are often huge affairs, and they can occur at any time, lending yet more credence to the appearance of Grippli as celebrants of the highest order.
In truth, Grippli are foragers, hunters, and gatherers in most instances, but their work ethic is actually strongly developed. Only the most dedicated Grippli can compete for the hands of the most desirable mates, of both genders, and as a result there is a real 'rat race' going on. Just because a Grippli isn't toiling in a field doesn't mean they aren't working hard.
Grippli have a strong tradition of travel, too. Many young Grippli sign out as sailors, where they can earn excellent wages. From there, it's a short step to being an adventurer, and even though grippli are not a common race, they are often adventurers, so that they seem more abundant than they might otherwise.
Lifespan and Burial
Grippli grow quickly once they are hatched, and reach adulthood in only ten years. They have a long adult period, followed by a period of middle age, followed by a long and comfortable period of dotage. Grippli live about a century, usually, and can expect to thirty years or so in each period of their lives after childhood. Since they almost always marry into a line marriage, Grippli in their dotage serve as valuable fonts of wisdom and experience for their marriage partners, and Grippli revere their elders more than most races do.
Once a Grippli reaches the end of their life, they are buried without much fanfare. They are frequently left in a quiet backwater to be eaten by the denizens of the swamp, or weighted down in rich water, for much the same reason. Rarely does a Grippli get a grave or a marker, and they don't feel any need for such things, either. For a Grippli, their family is their memorial.
Grippli funerals are solemn affairs at the beginning, but usually end with much merriment and storytelling about the one who has passed on. Yet another reason for Grippli to have a reputation as celebrants and bon-vivants of the highest caliber.
Relations with Others
Grippli get along distantly but amicably with most other races. Grippli rarely ever meet Oreads or Ifrits, and treat both those races with healthy respect if they ever do meet. Grippli despise Vishkanya, seeing them as dry, musty cheaters and usurpers. In fairness, Grippli do try to give the Vishkanya a little slack, since they did not ask to be made the way they were made, but a little slack doesn't go very far in the face of that animosity.
Grippli get along famously well with Vanx, for whom the Grippli frequently work, and Undines, whose great ships are another frequent place that a Grippli can ply their way through the world. Strangely enough, Grippli tend to dislike halflings, and are perhaps the only race that doesn't like the small earth-dwellers. Humans are probably the race the grippli see the most, of course, as the great harbor cities of the humans are places where grippli are welcomed with open arms. Humans treat Grippli like they treat everybody, as useful sources of trade, skills, and stories.
Starting Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Weight Weight Modifier Male 2 ft. 9 in. +2d4 in. (2 ft. 11 in. - 3 ft. 5 in.) 50 lbs. +(2d4x3 lbs.) (56 - 74 lbs.) Female 2 ft. 7 in. +2d4 in. (2 ft. 9 in. - 3 ft. 3 in.) 40 lbs. +(1d8x2 lbs.) (42 - 56 lbs.)
Adulthood Intuitive Self-Taught Trained 10 years +1d4 years (11 - 14 years) +1d6 years (11 - 16 years) +1d10 years (11 - 20 years)
Grippli have no class or alignment restrictions.
Standard Racial Traits
All Grippli have the following Standard Racial Advantages:
- Attributes: Grippli may choose to gain one of the following ability score bonus sets when creating their character. No ability score may ever be modified above a 20 or below a 7.
- +2 to two different stats, -2 to one stat
- +2 to one stat, +1 to three different stats, -2 to one stat
- +4 to one stat, -2 to two different stats
- Size: Grippli are size Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a -1 penalty to their Maneuver Offense value and Maneuver Defense, and a +1 size bonus on Stealth checks.
- Type: Grippli have the Humanoid type, with the Grippli subtype.
- Base Speed: Grippli have a Walk speed of 20 feet.
- Languages: Grippli begin play speaking Common.
- Bonus Languages: Characters with a positive Intelligence modifier gain one bonus language per +1 of their modifier, selecting from the following list: Aquan, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, and Orc. Once the character's intelligence is high enough to have acquired all six of these bonus languages, they no longer gain bonus languages for increasing their Intelligence. Characters can also learn new languages by placing ranks in the Linguistics skill.
- Normal Vision (Ex): Grippli have normal vision, and require bright light to see without penalty.
- Prehensile Tongue (Ex): Grippli have a very long tongue. For most Grippli this is merely cosmetic, but some Grippli may use their tongue for useful things.
- Climb Speed (Ex): Grippli have a Greater Climb speed that is equal to their Walk speed. If they have items, abilities or effects which permanently increase or decrease their Walk speed, their Greater Climb speed is also affected.
Major Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Major Racial Traits:
- Bounding Leaper (Su): A Grippli with this racial trait gains Acrobatics as a natural talent and may remap it to the ability modifier of his choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill. The Grippli is treated as always having a running start for jumps, and travels twice as far as indicated by the jump check result. The Grippli may exceed his maximum speed when jumping, and his jumps are always resolved as a single move action.
- Slick Skin (Su): A Grippli with this racial trait gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC. This bonus increases to +2 AC at 25th level.
- Agile Tongue (Ex): A Grippli with this racial trait adds an inclusive reach of ten feet to his prehensile tongue ability. In addition, he can pick up items weighing no more than 5 pounds, make Sleight of Hand checks, perform the steal or disarm combat maneuvers, or deliver melee touch attacks with his tongue. The Grippli's tongue cannot be used to wield a weapon, nor does it deal any damage on its own. After you perform any of these actions, until the start of your next turn or until you release any held object (whichever is longer), you cannot speak or perform any action with a verbal component.
- Uncanny Stillness (Su): In any round in which you do not use a move action for movement, gain +1 to hit with all attacks until the beginning of your next turn. This bonus increases to +2 at level 15.
- Slime Coat (Su): A Grippli with this racial ability may voluntarily exude a thick coat of slime as a move action. This slime coat provides temporary hit points equal to your Con modifier, minimum 1.
Minor Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Minor Racial Traits:
- Wide-spaced Eyes (Ex): A Grippli with this racial trait does not grant attackers who are flanking the Grippli a bonus to hit (normally, flanking provides a +2 to-hit bonus). This does not prevent the Grippli from being flanked, nor does it protect them from abilities which are only usable if the Grippli is flanked (e.g. sneak attack).
- Sticky Tongue (Ex): A Grippli with this racial trait can use his prehensile tongue racial ability to retrieve small, stowed objects carried on his person and place the object into his hand as a swift action. The retrieved object cannot weigh more than 5 pounds. If the Grippli does not have a free hand to take the object, the Grippli can hold it with his tongue. He cannot retrieve another item until he drops the item or hands it off to his hand, nor can he speak or perform any action with a verbal component until the object is released.
- Amphibian Artistry (Ex): The Grippli with this racial trait may add a +1 training bonus to any Profession skill related to an amphibious lifestyle in which they have at least 1 rank. This could apply to Profession (Sailor), Profession (Carpenter) when working with familiar woods, Profession (Tanner) when dealing with crocodile hides, etc. This bonus improves to +2 at level 10, +3 at level 20, and +4 at level 30.
- Perpetual Smile (Ex): The Grippli with this racial trait improves his chances of a critical success with the Diplomacy skill by 1 (requiring a natural result of 19 or 20 to crit with the skill check, instead of only a natural 20). When the Grippli reaches level 10, he also improves his chances of a critical success on Bluff skill rolls by 1 (requiring a natural result of 19 or 20 to crit). Any time the Grippli rolls a critical result with either Bluff or Diplomacy, he adds +8 to his result, instead of the normal +5.
- Not Compensating (Ex): Grippli with this racial trait can wield weapons that are sized for Medium creatures without taking a size or handiness penalty.