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Kestrel

The kestrel are living proof of the power of redemption to not just defeat evil, but to change it into something fundamentally good. These half-breeds proudly sing the song of their origins: once, there was a Halfling settlement, a walled town on the frontier built on trade and craftsmanship. This town was championed by a paladin now known only as the Knight of Songs, who was as wise as she was strong, as cunning as she was virtuous, and known for her mercy and justice for many miles and more. When a murder of harpies settled in the forests near her home, the Knight of Songs counseled caution; the harpies were too few to attack, she said, and would come seeking peace. And so the town waited, and soon enough the harpies came to say that they had claimed a stretch of the woods as their own.

Surprising all, including the harpies, the Knight of Songs declared that the town would not dispute the claim, and the land belonged to the harpies to use as they would.

So it was, a few months later, that the Knight of Songs came calling upon the harpies with gifts of food and jewelry, to welcome them as neighbors. “Why do you do this?” asked the murder’s leader, and the Knight replied, “Because it is neighborly.” They talked, for some time, about the forest and the wildlife, the quality of the hunting and town’s logging operations outside of the harpies’ section of the woods, and finally the talk turned to religion. The harpies preened themselves and boasted that their demons gave them great power and glory, at which the Knight scoffed. “Show me these demons,” she challenged, “and I will defeat them all.”

On the first day, the harpies summoned a minor demon, and the Knight dispatched it without effort. “Come back tomorrow,” the harpies asked, “and we will have another foe for you.” The next day, the harpies summoned another demon, and the Knight slew it in battle, and the day after, and on until finally the harpies summoned a dread balor from the Abyss for the Knight of Songs to do battle with. The battle lasted three days and three nights until, at long last, the Knight stood upon the smoking ruin of her foe’s body, streaked with scars and wounds, utterly spent. In that moment she was as vulnerable as she had ever been, but she still raised her head to the harpies and said to them, “I have bested your demons. Will you take my challenge in turn? Come with me and dwell amongst my people. See the power that has given me this strength, and claim it for your own.” The harpies conferred with each other and, as one, agreed.

It took many years for the harpies to see what the Knight wished to show them. Each time they saw the halflings behaving in a way they did not understand, the Knight was there to explain it to them, to show them how mercy gains allies, how justice begets strength, and how the truly mighty did not need to prove their worth constantly to others. She promised them a life of peace, where they could have the joys of song and laughter amongst her people as equals. At first the harpies changed their ways for the promise of power, and eventually they acted out of genuine goodness in their hearts, swayed from evil by the quiet strength of the Knight and the acceptance of their neighbors. Eventually, as the presence of harpies became simply part of the settlement, the first kestrels were born.

They have not forgotten the lessons of their forebears.

Appearance

Kestrels look mostly like someone crossed a halfling with a bird; their legs are feathered and end in sharp talons, and they have large, vulture-like wings which may sprout from their shoulders or be attached to their arms (kestrel children learn early on how to combine gliding and tool use, lest they be saddled with embarrassing nicknames). Kestrels have large feathered tails to aid in flight, and may have feathers instead of hair. Dark-colored hair, feathers, and eyes are exceedingly dominant, with rare specimens being a light gray instead of brown or black. Kestrel have beautiful, many-layered voices that are capable of hitting a wide range of musical notes.

Kestrels tend to dress lightly—they have to be able to glide and fly, after all—and favor coloring their skin or feathers to accessorizing. Light armor is popular with kestrel warriors, as is ranged weaponry. It is exceedingly rare to see a kestrel that is less than fastidiously groomed.

Demeanor

Kestrels tend to be positive people, not just because of the pride they take in their origins but because they intimately understand the power of confidence, attitude, and bearing upon others. Though kestrels, as a people, are now found in many more places than the town that first gave rise to them, they remain living proof of the power of redemption and the might that rises from mercy, and they carry those lessons with them in their day to day lives.

Kestrels learn athleticism, curiosity, hospitality, kindness, and confidence from their parent races, and they can form the heart of their groups of friends, always keeping morale up with a kind word, a clever joke, and generally just offering moral support. Sometimes, kestrels can take this too far; they forget that sometimes they need a shoulder to cry on too and hide their pains from others until they get to be too much.

Backgrounds

Kestrel tend to be raised in communities much like the ones that gave rise to them, which have a mixed population of kestrel, halflings, and harpies. Celebrated as the beloved children of an honorable line, kestrels grow up happy, loved, and wanting to contribute to their communities. Very often they join their harpy parents in providing hunting, scouting, or courier work, which gives them a background in traveling and self-sufficiency, as well as an appreciation for a place to hang up their armor and just perch for awhile.

Kestrel are quite aware that the vast majority of harpies are not great people; how they react to this varies from kestrel to kestrel. Many try to follow the example laid down by the Knight of Songs. Others simply try to avoid the more wild examples of harpies, unwilling or unable to try and extend redemption—or justice—to the more vile examples of that race. Either way, kestrel tend to try to negotiate rather than fight with harpies, if only because unlike many adventurers they see harpies as people, not monsters.

Adventures

Kestrels tend to become adventurers for much the same reasons that halflings do, though there is a strong subset of those who leave home looking to bring the light of redemption to savage or evil races. Kestrels tend to become paladins, rangers, rogues, stalkers, clerics, oracles, and sorcerers, with rangers, rogues, and stalkers being slightly more common because of previous training as scouts or hunters. Kestrel make excellent bards and are fascinated by bards of all races

Kestrel tend to be bleeding hearts; they see an opportunity for redemption in savage races, sometimes even when it’s not there. This conviction sometimes leads them to heroic deeds of valor and mercy, but it also sometimes gets them killed, especially when they trust those they really should not have.

Racial Traits

Ability Score Adjustments

+2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Intelligence: Kestrel are nimble and appealing, but aren’t very bright.

Size

Small: Kestrel are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +! size bonus on attack rolls, a -1 pealty to their CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.

Type

Humanoid (crossblood, Halfling): Kestrel are humanoids with the crossblood and Halfling subtypes.

Other Racial Traits

Slow Speed: Kestrels are somewhat awkward on land; they have a base land speed of 20 feet.

Vestigial Wings (Ex) Kestrel gain Vestigial Wings as a bonus feat. At 9 hit dice they gain Aerial Wings as a bonus feat

Calming Voice (Ex) Kestrel have calming, lovely voices. They have a +2 racial bonus on Charisma-based checks involving their voice

C Sharp (Sp): Kestrel can shriek in ways that make harpies jealous. They can use shatter once per day as a spell-like ability

Evasive (Ex) Kestrel are even more capable and agile than their Halfling father. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Acrobatics and Fly checks as well as a +1 dodge bonus to aC

Victorious Song (Su) A kestrel’s song can lighten the spirits of those who call her friend. As a standard action, a kestrel can sing a tune that grants allies within 60 feet of her a +2 morale bonus on saves against fear and a +1 bonus on attack rolls until the start of her next turn. If the kestrel can use inspire courage, increase the bonuses granted by inspire courage by the above amount instead.

Low-light Vision (Ex) Kestrel can see twice as far as humans in dim light.

Languages: Kestrel begin play speaking Common. Kestrel with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, or Halfling.

Alternate Racial Traits

Inherited Luck (Ex) Some kestrel have their halfling parents’ luck, gaining a +1 luck bonus on all saving throws. This racial trait replaces evasive.

Courage (Ex) Some kestrel have gained a certain resistance to fear, gaining a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against fear spells and effects. This replaces calming voice.

Favored Class Options

Bard: +1 additional round per day of bardic performance.

Cleric: +1/2 on Knowledge (planes) checks.

Cryptic: +1/4 choose a creature type. That creature type is considered your active type in addition to your other active types. These additional active types may not be changed.

Marksman: Gain +1/5 of a bonus combat feat.

Paladin: +1 on smite evil damage rolls against evil outsiders.

Psychic Warrior: Add one power known from the psychic warrior power list. This power must be at least 1 level lower than the highest-level powers the psychic warrior can learn.

Ranger: Add +1/4 of a new combat style feat.

Rogue: Add +1 racial bonus on Fly checks.

Stalker: Add +1/2 racial bonus on Stealth checks.

Warder: Gain +1/5 of a new bonus combat feat.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens