Sages speculate that kvals are a product of the fabric of reality itself. These scholars believe that the universe has a built-in safety mechanism for when the balance of good and evil becomes violently tipped towards evil. The world itself quickly expels the evil, excising it and the surrounding area as one might remove a cancerous tumor. The offending land then resides in a self-contained demiplane where it festers for untold ages and collapses. The kvals are part of that process, acting as agents of entropy to the evil that resides within. When the malevolence is mostly consumed, the energies that maintain this microcosm collapse and deposit the kvals into the mortal world, sometimes in great hordes. When unleashed upon this world, most kvals continue to fight the forces of evil.
In a world where half-orcs and tieflings can be accepted as a player race, the kvals may fit in very well. In many ways, they appear much less threatening than orcs and tieflings. However, playing a race that is less than a foot tall can provide some very interesting challenges. First, everything is going to be out of reach, too big, and generally giant-sized in comparison to this character. The kvals can compensate with large hands, and really good acrobatic skills. Still, it may be difficult to be taken seriously when you are the size of the average housecat.
The size can also be a great advantage. Kvals are no less powerful than other races, but they distinctly appear to be nothing more than a minor nuisance. Enemies will likely underestimate or fail to notice a kval, which can be a fatal mistake. Conversely, a kval may be confused for a diabolic imp, and unjustly targeted by forces of good.
Despite their ancient origins, kvals in this text are presented as a fairly fresh race to the world. They are rarely encountered and cannot reproduce naturally.
A new batch may have entered your world eons after the last batch. Therefore they do not need to be intertwined with your existing campaign history. This allows them to be placed in virtually any campaign setting with little work. As is, they require almost no adjustment to your world to begin play immediately.
However, if the back story will not work with your campaign, there are alternatives. The kvals could easily be a goodly race that has fled from Hell, invading your world in droves in search of sanctuary. Or perhaps the kvals are natural creatures; a race of kobolds infused with diabolical blood. The kvals may also be from another reality; a reality in which evil has triumphed and the only goodly survivors are these tiny imp-like creatures.
Whatever the case, a kval will make a welcome addition to any game as the tiniest character in the group, an unusual option for a player seeking something entirely different, a challenge for the player who likes to play everything or even a fun alternative for those who want to see the world from a different angle.
Physical Description: Looking upon a kval, one might be convinced it is a wicked, wingless imp. It stands only about one-foot tall, has goat-like horns, bright orange cat-like eyes, and a long, spade-tipped tail. Its skin is pale blue, and its simian mouth is full of sharp teeth. It even smells of fire and brimstone. Perhaps its most alarming feature, however, is its large and disproportionate hands. This minuscule, wiry-looking creature has hands the size of a full-grown man’s, with three clawed fingers and a thumb. The hands, which appear far too heavy for the creature to wield, are actually capable of grasping and using Small-sized weapons. This creature is amazingly strong for its size.
Kval voices are deep and sinister, and often carry a thick abyssal accent. They hiss loudly when scared or angry.
Ecology & Society: The secret of the kval’s strength is their incredible density. While standing only about a foot tall, a kval weighs over 100 lbs. It seems to be made of matter not common to this world. When badly injured, a kval bleeds a shadowy and insubstantial ooze that is toxic to all life. Dissection of these creatures is difficult, as their ichor penetrates nearly any barrier. From what can be ascertained, the kvals have many sack-like, though unidentifiable, organs, a skeletal system that seems to be composed of a dark metallic compound, and a fragile crystalline structure in their head that likely serves as a brain. Unfortunately, a kval’s body decomposes very quickly, leaving an indelible black stain only one day after death.
Kvals have unusual eating habits and will consume just about anything in large quantities. One peculiar habit that many find particularly disturbing is their propensity to devour fallen foes. A kval can consume an entire Medium-sized corpse in just a few hours, bones and all. While many find the act to be particularly ghoulish, the fact that kvals only find evil creatures to be palatable provides a small measure of solace.
Kvals have no sexual organs or any means to reproduce, though seem to spontaneously generate in naturally occurring demiplanes in which great evil is contained. As the evil wanes, the population of kvals increases. The frequency is exponential, so that by the time the demi-realm collapses, most of the rift imps entering the mortal world are brand-new or only a few days old. While very naïve at this young age, they are fully grown and functional adults. Kvals are immortal creatures that never show signs of age. Unfortunately, their unquenchable thirst to destroy evil often brings about their demise in less than a century after entering this realm.
Relations: Kvals initially have trouble fitting in with other races. They can be ripe with bad habits and rash behavior. Kvals are also prone to a dark sense of humor that others may find tactless and crude. Another difference is that kvals care little for notions of love or romance, as they simply cannot relate. However, a kval can also be passionate, witty, caring, and inspiring. Once one gets to know a kval, it is much easier to overlook its sinister qualities and admire its fierce spirit. Many who manage to befriend a kval also find a life-long companion.
Consequentially, kvals get along well with humans and dwarves, especially those with strong convictions against evil. Their sinister countenance often relegates them to the company of benign halforcs and other, less-comely, non-evil, races. Kvals have trouble relating to the “prettier” races such as elves, gnomes, and halflings who often share a reciprocal disregard. Gnomes seem to harbor an innate fear of these creatures, and have trouble making friendships.
Relations to Remarkable Races: Kvals get along best with the stranger races, so long as these races uphold the fight against evil. Kvals often find kinship with both the xax and the zif races. Zifs are particularly interested in the kvals, and believe they may be a key element to the fight against unearthly abominations. Kvals do not typically get along with muses; each tend to see the other as an agent of evil masquerading as an ally of good.
Alignment and Religion: Kvals are almost always chaotic, having neither the mind nor the patience to recognize the virtues of law and order. Only the most self-hating of kvals would become evil, as they are naturally inclined against the darker path. An evil kval would be the self-destructive sort, desperately trying to end its existence through outrageous challenge.
Kvals are most often non-religious, though have, on occasion, taken up the flag of any god whose goal includes eradicating evil at any cost. Kvals will also not hesitate to make alliances with powerful outsiders who share the same goal.
Adventurers: Kvals are often quick-tempered and ill-mannered, though lack the selfishness and greed that would categorize them as truly deplorable. In fact, most view the kvals as a force of good, as many kvals relentlessly stalk and destroy evil at every opportunity. This tendency is instinctual; when asked about their motivation they often convey confused responses such as, “Evil is just so annoying,” and, “Evil is my natural prey.”
Kvals tend to become excellent rogues and rangers, viewing those classes as the best avenue to hunt and kill evil. They will occasionally take up a religion that is congruent with their cause. Kval clerics are typically better mannered than others of their ilk, as their training teaches them the patience and humility that the common kval typically lacks. Kvals also tend to be drawn to arcane classes, especially the wizard. Kvals can be any other class, but such individuals are somewhat rare.
Names: Baccus, Cordo, Felor, Grel, Jart, Kelkor, Quort, Rarg, Teris, Ukkob, Velus, Wulp, Zor, Zul.
The following feats are available to a kval character who meets the prerequisites.
The following classes and/or prestige classes are available to a kval character who meets the prerequisites.
You can exchange one or several of your character’s normal racial Traits, but of course you cannot exchange the same racial trait more than once.
As with any alternate or optional rule, you must first get the permission of your GM to exchange any of your character’s normal racial Traits for those listed here.
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, kvals have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to all kvals who have the listed Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.