- Standing like stone, the land abides.
Oreads are an elemental race, a potent merger between the flesh creatures of the surface world and the mighty spirits of the Stone Beneath. Many ages ago, the first Oreads arose spontaneously during the Dawn Times. Some sages and scribes speculate that oreads arose as a consequence of the rise of Dwarves, and Dwarven tunneling activities in those eons past essentially drove the Stone spirits to the surface. Regardless of the truth of this tale, Oreads and Dwarves have a rocky relationship at the best of times. Oreads live on the surface and feel that the Stone Beneath should be left undisturbed. Dwarves live in the earth, digging and tunneling ceaselessly. This leads to tensions aplenty, but Oreads are a rare race, while Dwarves are as plentiful as grains of sand in a bed of sandstone. So the Oreads usually simmer in discontent and let the affairs of Dwarves pass unremarked.
Oreads begin life no bigger than a small pile of rocks, but never stop growing until they mentally die. Indeed, it is easy to distinguish older oreads from youth, as the older adults are towering things, extremely tall and massively muscled. Male oreads typically have a rangy, craggy build like a rocky outcropping or a basalt stair formation. Females are smaller, and they tend towards gently rounded contours, like water-smoothed pebbles. Both genders express many stony features, with skin tones in males of rough granite, heavy basalt, refined jade (both green and mottled brown/white) and raspy sandstone, and in females skin tones resembling creamy marble, alabaster, jet, and most spectacularly, vivid turquoise or malachite. While asleep, an oread's eyes are uniformly dull black, but when awake, they are phosphorescent, giving off a mild glow in blue, green, yellow, or orange.
Oreads gain no sustenance from food, as do other races. Instead, Oreads eat stone, the purer the better. A nice chunk of sandstone is a good meal, basalt is a little heavy, chert and flint are treats, coal and especially oil make them drunk, and some semi-precious stones seem to affect them like intoxicating drugs. An Oread's stew is literally a pot of warm mud (clay is filling but a bit bland) mixed with pebbles and chunks of stone. An Oread's teeth are as hard as diamonds, but sadly (or luckily) have little to no value since they cannot be polished into beauty like gemstones can.
Oreads have no affinity for soil, plants, or animals. They have no need of farms or herds. An Oread can eat normal food, and many oreads enjoy it, but they gain no sustenance from it. Oreads appreciate bare stone lying exposed to the sky, and so they often live on barren rocky outcrops, stone deserts, and mountains, where there are few pesky plants to deal with. Oreads breathe air like normal, but Oreads require very little water to sustain their lives, enough to moisten their mouths every few hours is usually enough. Oreads avoid water deeper than they are tall, since they immediately sink to the bottom. If oreads must deal with waterways, they prefer to build stone bridges over them of remarkable sturdiness and with very high railings. Oreads can climb remarkably well, assuming whatever they are climbing can support their weight. Their hands and feet are so hard and strong they can find solid grips almost anywhere on almost anything.
Aside from their extremely weird physiology, Oread's are quite prosaic. They marry, have children, value family, all in the usual humanoid ways. However, Oreads rarely live with other cultures, not because they are aloof, but because other races need water and plants and animals to live, which are all things oreads consider annoying clutter between them and the Stone Beneath. Where there are places close to or within cities that are good Oread habitat, they will cheerfully dwell close to other races and generally get along well with everyone except Dwarves. Oreads do not like Dwarves.
Growing Up Oread
Oreads live in homes made of split stone piled up without mortar, or more rarely, in log homes made of unfinished logs. Oreads dislike the feel of mortar and concrete in their tremorsense, and will never willingly use it. Oreads like bright light due to their weak vision, and their homes, despite being made of massive stones with thick slate roofs, are often brightly lit by many strategically placed small windows and many light sources. Oread families are strangely prosaic given how odd the Oreads appear, but seeing an Oread family at mealtime is such a normal spectacle it is almost jarring.
Oread women breed only rarely, but bearing children is easy for them, since 'pregnancy' for an Oread woman involves she and her mate creating a 'loci' in her flesh, which she then transfers, over a period of a few years, into a carefully made stone cairn within a stony creche in their home. During this transition, the female is unimpaired by the pregnancy entirely, and can more or less continue her normal routine without concern for the welfare of the baby growing inside of her. 'Birth' happens when the loci quickens in the stone cairn, and an oread child spends the first decade of its life as a cheerful little creature of animated rubble. Oread children are remarkably durable, and Oreads view the delicate children of other races with horror.
Around the age of ten, an oread child sheds its rocky coat and assumes its adult gender. Every few years thereafter, an Oread's skin becomes coarser and more pebbled, and then sheds again. These cycles of erosion are caused by the oread's constant growth, and these cycles continue until an oread's first torpor, when growth ceases and calcification begins. While durable and tough, an Oread's skin is only about as hard as talc after its first few erosions. Oreads will bleed if injured, though it can appear they simply leak a moist sand or mud. They breathe and perspire and are just as susceptible to poisons and diseases as any other races. Oreads are tremendously heavy, even though they may appear relatively slender.
Oreads are fully physically mature at the age of twenty, when their skin loses the last of its childhood hardness. They continue growing and shedding for their entire lives. Some oreads grow delicate whiskers of crystal on their heads and faces, or ridges of softer stones of a more porous nature, where most other races grow hair. A 'haircut' for an oread often involves hammer and chisel to shape the relatively soft accumulation upon their head into a pleasing fashion, and they use oils, dyes, and lacquers to achieve a large variety of pleasing shapes, surfaces, and colors, especially among Oread women. Oreads are mentally adults by the age of forty.
Oreads who live with other races do make some efforts to integrate, and will often send their children to schools, and the adults will often mingle and socialize with other races. Oreads can eat and drink normal food and some oreads enjoy it greatly, although the only thing they find nutritious about normal food is the salt and bones. In a pinch, an Oread can eat an entire salt-shaker and gain sustenance that way, and many oreads consider beef knuckle bones with the marrow still in them great treats and eat them with relish.
Oreads worship Gods, typically of the earth and the sky, and will graciously interact with other races who share such worship.
Oreads are physically immortal, though they can be slain through violence or mishap. Their bodies never age or die in the traditional sense. Their minds, however, are completely mortal and eventually die, leaving their bodies behind, inert but intact. Even so, Oreads mentally live a very long time, roughly a thousand years, but beginning around the age of five hundred, their mental processes start slowing down and they will enter torpors. At first, a torpor may last only a week or so, and a few decades may pass before another occurs. Over the years, however, the torpors grow longer and the waking periods shorter, until one day they enter a torpor that never ends.
Oreads are excellent craftsmen and artists. Oreads, despite their typically poor vision, have a highly refined artistic sense and often love arranging stone and light into remarkably striking forms. Oreads make tremendous architects, and their distinctive piled-stone construction is instantly recognizable. Oreads dislike concrete and mortar for reasons they have difficulty explaining, except that they 'feel grotesque' to their tremorsense, but they can certainly use such materials in building for other less sensitive races.
Oreads do not like mines and will not willingly disturb the Stone Beneath. That said, open pit quarries are perfectly fine. Oreads can live in extremely harsh environments and as a result are often suppliers of building stone, natural gravel, and such high-quality stone products as split-slate sheets, marble, dimension-cut limestone, and other materials. That said, Oreads are not deeply integrated into the economy of other races, simply because an Oread has fewer needs than most races. Oreads eat stones and drink almost nothing at all (no one is really certain how they make perspiration), and they have no need for plants or animals. Aside from their contributions with stone, Oreads have little need or desire to trade with others.
That said, there is an unfortunate tendency among Oreads to barter goods or labor to other races in exchange for oil, coal, and gemstones. It is an open secret that Oreads are intoxicated by such things, and there is a minority of oreads who can have severe problems with such materials. Oreads cannot mine oil and coal on their own, as they quickly grow too inebriated to work in such conditions, so they have to buy such things from other races, who are often all-too-willing to supply them.
Oreads find a lot of work among other races wherever there are deserts. Oreads love deserts, they are nice, quiet places where the Stone Beneath can gaze upon the sky in peace. Oreads gain employment as caravan guards, guides, and often serve as caravan masters. As a result, Oread sherpas and guides are a surprisingly common sight. While not particularly nomadic by preference, Oreads take great pleasure in traveling through rocky, unstable and treacherous environments that other races would view with disdain and dread.
Oreads tend to wear clothing made of metal and leather. Oreads have dense flesh and are not subject to chafing, so light chainmail and heavy leather is as comfortable to them as the softest silks to other races. Oreads intensely dislike wearing any plant-based materials for reasons they can't really explain, aside from they 'feel terrible.' Cotton, linen, hemp, etc, is never willingly used as clothing by Oreads. Oddly enough, some Oreads find silk to be highly sensual and pleasing to the touch, though clothing made of it is often viewed as a fetish, rather than a practical garment, best worn only in private. That is not to say that such garments are immodest by other races' standards; often they are full-body sheathes of silk, like a mumu, but the oreads who wear such things consider them quite naughty indeed.
Despite their very unusual physiology, Oreads are remarkably humanoid in their behaviors. Oreads have personalities, interests, and mental structures just like other races. Oreads enjoy jokes, like having friends, experience love and desire, and cherish their families. Oreads that are living close to other races will seek to make friends with them and interact with them. Oreads like other races, with the notable exception of Dwarves, who they consider with a squirming distaste other races reserve for maggots wriggling in dead flesh. That said, oreads do try to overcome their instinctive dislike for Dwarves, but it's a trial. Oddly, Oreads and Vanx like each other in principal, but they keep that affection strictly at a distance. Oreads don't like to be around water deeper than they can walk through, and Vanx are creeped out by oreads for reasons they are rarely willing to explain.
Aside from their creepy habit of decorating their piled-stone houses with sleeping relatives, Oreads are considered good if stand-offish neighbors. Oreads tend to have their own businesses and keep to themselves, and honestly, after watching an Oread eat a "meal," most races are just fine with that.
Lifespan and Burial
As an Oread ages, he or she sleeps longer and longer in periods called 'torpors'. Eventually, they fall into a sleep and their theirs minds gutter and flicker out, which is death for an oread. However, their bodies are completely immortal, continuing to breathe and exist indefinitely.
As you can imagine, this makes the whole death and burial process very difficult for oreads. Is your grandfather finally gone, or might he wake up again? It might take a few centuries to know for sure, and there is always some nagging doubt.
Perhaps even more terrible, what do you do with all those empty but immortal bodies? Oread bodies will never decay, but if they do no eat regularly, an oread will slowly calcify until he becomes quite rigid. But even when fully hardened, he might wake up at any moment, even after a century of torpor, eat a good meal and become limber once more.
The decision to 'get rid of' an Oread's body is a difficult one, and can be the source of significant strife in Oread households. A beloved uncle may be kept around for centuries, in the stubborn hope he might awaken once again. Oreads tend to keep their relatives around, often in niches in their homes, where they can see them and keep them in good order, dusted and in good repair. This is often viewed by other races as ghoulish in the extreme, and few people will go to visit an Oreads house willingly, seeing as how it is usually decorated with dozens of life-size oread statues that aren't statues at all.
When all hope is lost and an Oread family is certain that a relative is finally gone for good, their body will be carried to a place with open sky, exposed bedrock and expansive views of the surrounding countryside. There, the relative is left exposed to the elements and will erode over the course of a century or two. Oreads view these partially eroded corpses with a grim knowledge that their own fate will be the same, and rarely visit such gravesites. The memories of their loved ones, and the centuries of having them nearby in their homes, is usually enough remembrance for those who have passed. Of course, such burial grounds are sacred, and trespassers are kept at bay, lest they dishonor the relatives in their return to the Stone Beneath.
Relations with Others
Oreads get along reasonably well with most races. They are truly close with no other races, though, due to a combination of their frankly unnerving burial practices and general lack of neighbors. They actively dislike Dwarves, Vanx avoid them for their own reasons, and Sylphs and Undines have so little in common with them they rarely meet. Oreads get along quite well with Halflings, since Halflings are really nice and don't dig into the Stone Beneath very often, being instead content to burrow in the dirt. Half-orcs don't like Oread men very much because they're taller than half-orcs, and that makes half-orcs mad. Nagdyr tend to like Oreads a great deal, as the two races are a bit alike in their stand-offish ways.
Oreads make their way as caravaneers, stonemasons and laborers, and are in some small demand as architects and artists, but aside from that and small incidental trading, Oreads are generally left alone in their enclaves.
Starting Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Weight Weight Modifier Male 5 ft. 9 in. +4d6 in. (6 ft. 1 in. - 7 ft. 9 in.) 350 lbs. +(2d8x30 lbs.) (410 - 830 lbs.) Female 4 ft. 0 in. +2d4 in. (4 ft. 2 in. - 4 ft. 8 in.) 120 lbs. +(2d8x10 lbs.) (140 - 280 lbs.)
Adulthood Intuitive Self-Taught Trained 40 years +3d6 years (43 - 58 years) +5d6 years (45 - 70 years) +7d6 years (47 - 82 years)
Oreads have no class or alignment restrictions.
Standard Racial Traits
All Oreads have the following Standard Racial Advantages:
- Attributes: Oreads 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: Oreads are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Type: Oreads have the Humanoid type, with the Oread subtype.
- Base Speed: Oreads have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance. An Oread cannot swim without magical assistance (they sink!). When running, they run only three times their normal move (even in light or no armor). The DC for acrobatics checks made to jump is increased by +4 for Oreads.
- Languages: Oreads begin play speaking Common and Terran.
- Bonus Languages: Characters with a positive Intelligence modifier gain one bonus language per +1 of their modifier, selecting from the following list: Dolmen, Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Orc and Tengu. 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.
- Tremorsense (Su): As long as an Oread is in contact with bedrock, they have tremorsense to a range of 20 feet. If they are standing on any other solid surface, they have tremorsense in their own square and all adjacent squares. These ranges increase by 10 feet at 10th level, 20 feet at 20th level and 30 feet at 30th level. However, an Oread's distance vision is fairly poor, and they suffer a -3 range modifier penalty instead of the normal -2. However, Oreads targeting creatures within range of their tremorsense take no range modifier penalties at all.
Major Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Major Racial Traits:
- Elemental Affinity (Su): An Oread with this racial trait may add 1 point of acid damage per two Character levels (round down, minimum 1), to any effect they produce from any source (spells, items, class abilities, etc) which already has the Acid keyword. This extra damage may only be applied once per creature per round. Conversely, when using a weapon that deals acid damage, this racial trait instead adds 1 point of additional acid damage to the weapon's base damage (meaning it increases with the weapon's damage at 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th levels, is multiplied on a crit, and is neither bonus nor precision damage). This damage is applied once per attack. Rays are considered 'effects' for purposes of this trait, not weapons. Weapons or spells which do not already deal acid damage gain no benefit from this trait.
- Scree Stride (Su): An Oread with this racial trait can skillfully negotiate rocky and sloped terrain. They can ignore the movement penalties caused by difficult terrain created by rubble, broken ground, when moving up a slope or climbing steep stairs. At 10th level, the Oread can ignore the movement penalties caused by any difficult terrain. At 20th level an Oread not only ignores all penalties for difficult terrain, their base speed actually increases by five feet as long as their movement ends in rough terrain. At 30th level, an oread ignores all movement penalties for difficult terrain and their base speed increases by ten feet as long as their movement ends in rough terrain.
- Avalanche (Ex): An Oread with this racial trait increases his base speed to 30 feet, and may add a +1 racial bonus to his Might skill. At 15th level their base speed increases to 35 feet, and at 30th level it increases to 40 feet.
- Stonegrasp (Su): An Oread with this racial trait reduces the Handiness penalty by 1 when wielding a sized-large weapon. At 10th level, they may make Might a natural talent, remapping it to the ability modifier of the Oread's choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill. At 20th level they may substitute Might checks in place of Movement checks made to climb vertical or inverted surfaces, mitigate falling damage, or dig through the ground. At 30th level, the Oread can climb (using Might) at normal speed with no penalty to his climb checks.
- One With Stone (Su): An Oread with this racial trait can briefly toughen themselves against attacks. Once per day as a swift action, the Oread gains temporary hit points equal to his character level plus his CON modifier. At 12th level they may use One With Stone twice per day, and at 25th level they may use One With Stone three times per day.
Minor Racial Traits
Choose one of the following Minor Racial Traits:
- Stand like the Mountain (Ex): An Oread with this racial trait can reduce any forced movement they are subjected to by 1 square, including movement caused by combat maneuvers such as bull rush or reposition. Forced movement reductions stack, so if the Oread has a means of reducing forced movement from another source, such as a class ability or magic item, the Oread uses the sum of the reductions offered.
- Keen Eyed (Ex): An Oread with this racial trait no longer takes additional ranged penalties for targeting with sight (see Tremorsense, above). In addition, they improve their chances of a critical success with Perception checks by 1 (requiring a natural result of 19 or 20 to crit with the skill check, instead of only a natural 20).
- Iron Kin (Ex): While making Profession checks involving metal or stone, the Oread may add their CON mod as a training bonus to any checks, to a maximum addition of +1 per 2 ranks they have spent in the skill (round down). In addition, while wielding a weapon which is predominantly metal, an Oread with this racial trait can infuse additional strength to it, increasing his effective Maneuver Offense rolls and Maneuver Defense for Sunder maneuvers by +1.
- Early Torpor (Su): An Oread with this racial trait automatically stabilizes from dying when reduced below zero hit points, by entering a premature torpor state. Note that once begun by a stabilization roll the torpor grants the Oread DR/- and ER/- equal to his character level for as long as his hit points remain negative. For as long as the Oread remains alive but at negative hit points, he will continue to automatically stabilize from additional damage while in the torpor. He must be healed above zero hit points and then actively awakened by someone else in order to emerge from the torpor. Waking up an Oread in this state is a full-round action. Note that this does NOT protect an Oread from drowning, as they must still breathe even in torpor.
- Rolling Stone (Ex): An Oread with this racial trait gains a +2 training bonus to Acrobatics checks, as long as he remains in contact with the ground or other strong, stony surface such as a stone wall, cave wall, etc. This bonus improves to +3 at level 10, +4 at level 20, and +5 at level 30.