Few races live in the shadows of their mothers as much as the houri do. The children of elves and nymphs, houri are often raised by their immortal mothers, either as only children or with many half-sisters, depending on the taste of the nymph in question. Though their mothers are kind, wise, and loving, the houri learn quickly that they will always be seen by others as the daughter of the nymph that birthed them. Some accept this fate and exist as quieter blooms alongside their mother’s blaze of beauty. Others find living in someone’s shadow to be intolerable and leave to show the world that they are so much more than merely someone else’s daughter.
Beauty is the birthright of the houri, who appear as idealized elves in more than one way. Aside from a common lack of blemishes and a racial resistance to scarring, houri tend to appear as archetypes of beauty. One houri might have an impossibly curved figure and lustrous hair that never needs cleaning; another may be slender, fey-like in her wild beauty and energy, or a quiet innocence, all wide eyes and soft reassurances. All houri possess pleasant voices, brightly colored eyes, and a pleasant, natural odor that reminds those near them of flowers in bloom.
Though houri may (and do) dress however they choose, their clothing and armor tends to undergo subtle, ongoing changes as long as the houri continues to wear it regularly; jewelry never seems to need cleaning, colors seem brighter and more natural, and the cloth itself may change texture or color over time to compliment the houri. Even the plainest clothes, if worn for long enough, eventually transform over the course of slow years to appear as if they were made just for the houri wearing them.
It is notable that houri, like nymphs, are always female
Houri can sometimes come across as two-faced to others, which is not always strictly the houri’s fault. Their mother’s blood makes the houri naturally social beings, with an instinctive understanding of charm, poise, flattery, deceit, and compromise that is only heightened by experience and training. Lacking a reason to act otherwise, houri are polite, gracious, and kind to others—which makes their snaps of temper and sarcasm all the more shocking, when they occur. Growing up in the shadow of their mother’s beauty and importance, houri tend to be sensitive both to critique and to stereotyping; the former can make them wither in shame, while the latter tends to make them rise in wrath. Houri are possessed of a curious mix of self-assurance and doubt, which can make it difficult for others to know how to deal with them. To an extent, the houri just need to grow up, especially if they have just left their peaceful, supportive homes
Houri know they’re beautiful and use that beauty and charm to get their way. This is harmless, most of the time, though more than one houri has gone down selfish roads where they abuse others that fawn on them for favor, but the main problem is that houri often gain short-term satisfaction without developing meaningful long-term relationships. Their mothers are of no help with this problem; as primarily solitary beings, nymphs are very happy to have a small group of close friends with whom contact is infrequent. Houri crave more than that, but can end up powerfully lonely if they don’t realize that people need to be cared about, not just cared for and summoned for a quick favor or tumble through the sheets.
Houri mostly come from peaceful lives. While a few are born of chance meetings between elves and nymphs, the vast majority are born because a nymph has an ongoing positive relationship with an elven community. Houri grow up living with a mother who is not just loved for her beauty, but respected and revered as a guardian of the community, a representative of nature, and a force for goodness in the world. Quite aside from growing up in that shadow, they soon feel unconscious pressure to be that way themselves.
Though many assume that houri are some kind of “mini nymph”, they are not. The unconscious urges towards good that keep nymphs centered are absent in houri, who have a psychology that is more like their elven parents. This unfortunately tends to mean that houri realize early on that everyone sees them as fundamentally good, trustworthy, and desirable. Sometimes their mothers catch onto this early and teach the houri not to manipulate others for personal gain; most of the time the houri grows up at least a little selfish, spoiled, and ungrateful.
Most houri eventually leave home, if only to escape their mother’s shadow. Though they are raised with love, affection, and attention, houri yearn to be seen as their own people and eventually realize that this is never going to happen as long as they share a geographic region with their mother. Relationships between the two can remain tense for some time, especially if the two parted on bad terms. They get over it, eventually—both parties have eternity to calm down and decide to get to know one another again, after all.
Houri leave home looking to make a name for themselves, which calls many of them to try adventuring as a career. Those that survive their first job tend to fall into one of two camps: those horrified by violence (who retire to a community and attempt to become valued citizens) and those that are not. Houri are raised by beings with a keen sense of responsibility to the world, and houri adventurers tend to become the conscience of their group, selfish tendencies notwithstanding. Natural talent drives the houri to seek out magical training, and clerics, druids, oracles, sorcerers, and witches are all fairly common in the race. Martial and psionic classes, on the other hand, are rare—the former because the houri tend to find physical violence distasteful, and the latter because their fey blood quickens to more traditional forms of power much more easily.
Houri tend to pick up on the attitudes of their elven parents when it comes to race, especially since elves and nymphs have so many enemies in common. Life amongst younger races can come as a shock to houri, and they can, at times, fall in love with the faster-paced lifestyles and new forms of beauty. Rethinking a worldview they’ve held for at least a century can take some time, but as houri have nothing but time, most blossom into open-minded individuals.
Ability Score Adjustments
Medium: Houri are Medium creatures and thus have no bonus or penalties due to their size.
Other Racial Traits
Speed: Houri have a base speed of 30 feet.
Supernatural Beauty (Su): Once per day as a standard action, the houri may unveil her fey beauty; all creatures within 30 eet of the houri must make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the houri’s character level + the houri’s Charisma modifier) or suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for 1 hour as her beauty distracts and bedazzles them. This is a mind-affecting effect.
Innate Spells (Sp): Houri have a small measure of magical talent inherited from their mothers. They gain the following spell-like abilities usable once per day each: barkskin, charm animal, and entangle. The DCs for these spell-like abilities use the houri’s Wisdom modifier.
Ageless (Ex) A houri does not experience any of the benefits or penalties of aging beyond adulthood, and is effectively immortal, never dying of old age.
Languages: Houri begin play speaking Common and Sylvan. Houri with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Gnome, or Halfling.
Alternate Racial Traits
Wild Soul (Su) Some houri’s fey blood changes their perceived beauty away from mortals and towards the wilds. These houri are unimpeded by foliage and underbrush, magical or mundane. In addition, animals are automatically considered helpful unless the houri takes aggressive action towards them. This replaces supernatural beauty.
Favored Class Options
Guru: Gain +1/4 uses of your Stunning Fist ability.
Stalker: Add +1/3 ki point.
Witch: Add one spell known from the druid spell list. This spell must be at least one level lower than the highest-level spells the witch can learn. If the spell appears on both the druid and witch spell lists, use the lower-level version
Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens