Sky man (for Lab Lord)
Sky men are a proud and high-spirited people: they will not bear ill-usage. They are fond of adventures, emigration, and capable of undertaking the most dangerous enterprises.
They are divided into two castes: the shunned and ridiculed ground-walkers and the “true” sky men – those who have “come of age” and can walk on clouds, making their homes on shifting, drifting, fluffy continents.
The primitive and frequently squalid appearance of ground-walkers gives sky men a poor reputation among the rulers of the land, who are therefore disinclined to credit rumours of a high civilization above the clouds, or of solid sky man fortresses high in the stratosphere. Sky men are known to ride on (infest, perhaps) Timor Tom, however, and have been known to settle on other prominent flyers for a time. Garuda is said to have befriended the sky men and deigned to carry them willingly. There are even legends that Garuda taught the sky men how to live in the heavens.
Humans see the skin of sky men as always being the exact colour of the sky, making them extremely hard to spot in their usual environment. Birds and some lizards, however, which have 4 colour-sensitive cones in their eyes in place of humans’ 3, have no trouble seeing them. Under favourable conditions a sky man may gain up to +3 on all stealth tasks among humans from their near-invisibility.
All character classes have been found among sky men of one caste or another. In sky man society entertainers and memorizers of epic poems enjoy the highest status, alongside those leaders who prove their prowess by great deeds of thievery or piracy enacted against non sky men: the profession of thief is a perfectly acceptable choice for a young sky man setting out in the world. Mere warriors are seen as wasting their talents if they do not practice some other skill or rise to positions of leadership. Priests, diviners, spirit mediums and druids are viewed with suspicion but sky men tolerate them as occasionally highly useful. Sky man children are taught to fear wizards and their ilk, and there is no tradition of scholarly magic among them. Those who learn wizardry elsewhere are considered good marriage partners, however.
3d6 for stats. Because the mix of abilities and limitations pretty much balances out, Sky Men progress in their professions at the same rate as humans/baseline characters.
Sky men share the following special features:
1. Cannot wear armour. Really – they’re allergic to confinement, especially in any kind of metal harness – will lose 1hp per hour, or 1hp per four hours in leather armour.
2. But get natural AC 5 when naked and able to take advantage of sky-camouflage. AC 8 at other times, due to tough hide.
3. being almost invisible gives up to +3 to surprise under appropriate circumstances.
4. At 3rd level, get the ability to cloudwalk – not fly but walk and/or jump up into clouds and live up there like it’s another landscape. Cloudwalkers can carry their normal encumbrance load into the sky (as human). They also get hours of precognitive weather sense equal to their level (precog will wake them from sleep, trances etc). If the clouds thin/drop, they’ll drop out of them: crit fails on precog or jump are bad news. The ability to cloudwalk marks a sky man as a leader and imposes restrictions of honour: to maintain their sytatus cloudwalkers must take an oath of piracy: never to acquire anything in trade but only to steal it from groundwalkers
5. with a run up, they can long-jump their Dex + level in feet, or half that straight up.
(Originally inspired by Ken Hite’s Ingredients for Pyramid’s first Iron Ref competition – these being “a chair upholstered in an unusual or frightening material; an injury to the eye;” and some other thing I can’t remember. Sky Men are of course the secret masters of the Bugis of Sulawesi, those “ancestors” who first descended from the sky and told the Bugis to take to ships, thereby causing innumerable headaches for Dutch, British and French colonial shipping firms in the 18th and 19th centuries)
Rumours has it that Sky Men…
– worship the sky and are unable to cover their heads or sleep indoors
– generate local weather when angry or sad
– exude a smell delicious to wild animals and monsters
– may only use piercing weapons in honor of their thunderbolt gods
– can only drink rain water, not groundwater
– find vegetables, roots and tubers poisonous
– suffer claustrophobia or malaise when under a roof
– cannot pass beneath archways
– are poisoned by stagnant air