In a sword and sorcery campaign such as Zothique, the traditional
demihumans do not exist. Most player characters and non-player
characters are human. Players can use the following broad cultural
archetypes to distinguish between characters who would otherwise have
the same racial abilities.
Savages include warriors from the frozen north and witch-doctors from
the snake-infested jungles of the south. They have a close
connection with nature, but remain ignorant of many developments that
more civilized people take for granted.
Savages possess these traits:
- +1 to Strength
- Sturdy: +1 bonus to Armor Class. +1 bonus to saves
against magic (both aimed magic items and spells) and poison.
- Feral Senses: Foes suffer -1 malus to surprise chance
(min. 1). May stack with class ability.
- Superstitious: Before attacking any supernatural or
sorcery-using creature, the savage must succeed a Transformation save
(Will applies) or suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls against that
creature (or type of creature, if it is a group of the same) until the
end of the encounter. The referee may wave this drawback in particular
instances, such as when the Savage has bested such certain foes
Nomads roam the empty wastes beyond the civilized cities; quick to
strike and bound by no laws. Nomads live with their animals and ride
into battle with them; they feel ill at ease without them.
Nomads possess these traits:
- +1 to Dexterity
- Proud: +1 to saves against charm spells and effects.
- Horseman: At character creation, the character gains an
ass, donkey, mule, horse, or camel; bit and bridal, tack and saddle
(riding), along with any other starting gear. The horse is a courser,
(light war-horse); or a rouncy (not as hardy, but a stronger carrier).
The camel is a dromedary or bactrian. This is a combat-trained animal
and the nomad may fight with melee weapons and discharge missiles from
the saddle without malus. Should the animal die, a single replacement
war-trained ass, donkey, mule, horse, or camel may be procured at ⅔ the
cost; or a fitting mount can be subdued in the wild, tamed, and
trained with rules analogous to those used by the huntsman class (pg.
- Bowlegged: Maximum unarmored land speed is 30 ft.
Savages and nomads historically assemble to cultivate the land, build
great cities, develop trade, and study medicine, mathematics and
languages. In the civilized lands dwell noble knights, wise kings,
simple farmers, craftsmen, and learned sages — as well as
greedy merchants and cunning thieves.
Civilized people possess these traits:
- +1 to Intelligence
- Educated: Read and write one additional human language.
+1:12 chance to Decipher Script as a Thief (min 1:12).
Rather than an additional language, the player may opt for his
character to possess an "expertise." This may be a specific field of
science, arcana, or faith, or some other knowledge; and operates in
play similar to a Bard's "Folklore" ability q.v.. The
details need be worked out with the referee. Normally, the player need
not roll when attempting utilize information related to his expertise.
At the referee's discretion, a non-standard resolution check might
need to succeed for exceptionally difficult tasks or obscure
- Frail: Civilized people have a -1 penalty to saving
throws against poison and disease.
A few long-lived civilizations rise above others and gain
half-mythical status. Learned beyond normal men, people of enlightened
cultures are builders of cyclopean pyramids and towers that pierce the
skies. Their magnificent buildings can last forever, and likewise the
flesh of the enlightened ones can withstand the passage of time like no
Enlightened people possess these traits:
- +1 to Wisdom
- Uncanny: Once per day, the enlightened can re-roll any
dice roll, but must keep the second result, regardless of the outcome.
Also, enlightened characters use the following age categories: Middle
Age (100 years), Old (200 years), Ancient (300 years).
- Expert Builder: Enlightened ones can perceive unusual
stonework, such as traps and hidden doors in stone walls or floors,
with a 1:4 chance of success. They receive a check to notice such
features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them.
- Conceited: Too confident in their own abilities,
enlightened ones often underestimate their enemies. They suffer a -1
penalty to AC.
Great civilizations reach their peak and eventually decline. Jaded
nobles, corrupt priests and wicked slave-traders rule these fallen
kingdoms. Demon-worship, human sacrifice and drug abuse is all too
common in these cultures.
Decadent people possess these traits:
- +1 to Charisma
- Insidious: +1:12 chance to Hide as a Thief (min 1:12),
and +1 damage to unsuspecting foes.
- Arcane Adept: Add +1 to effective level when calculating
a spell resistant creature's chance to resist sorcery.
- Corrupt: -1 penalty to saving throws vs illusion, sleep,
The last survivors of decadent civilizations feud over dwindling
resources, or stronger cultures drive them away. Fleeing into
the wilderness, or deep underground beneath their ruins, they inbreed
and devolve into something no longer entirely human. Degenerates may
resemble savages, but they carry the evil taint of fallen kingdoms.
Degenerates possess these traits:
- +1 to Constitution
- Nocturnal: Degenerates benefit from twice the normal area
of effect of any light source. Thus a candle provides 10' radius
illumination, a torch provides 60', a bonfire 120' etc. They see
clearly in conditions of twilight, starlight and/or moonlight, as if
it were daytime.
- Ferocious: When a degenerate falls below 0 hit points but
isn't killed, he can fight on for one more round. Before the beginning
of next turn, unless healed above 0 hit points, he falls unconscious
and begins dying.
- Unwholesome: Degenerates always have physical deformity
or a mental illness—caused by inbreeding or prolonged exposure to
eldritch energies—that sets them apart from other humans. They can
never fully conceal this unwholesomeness. Degenerates suffer a -2
penalty on Reaction checks (unless interacting with other
Degenerates), and the initial reaction of other cultural archetypes
can never be better than Unfriendly. This malus may extend to other
party members when the Degenerate participates in negotiations, at the
discretion of the referee.