Like their “cousins”, the lashers, the race now known as lurkers began their existence in the labs of the Phrenic Hegemony. Unlike the lashers, who were deemed a surprising success, the lurkers are both an unmitigated failure and an ongoing source of shame and fury to what’s left of their design team. Originally intended as spies, scouts, and observers for underground campaigns, the lurkers rebelled against their creators, slaughtering most of the original design team and escaping en masse, where they swiftly spread into the Plane of Shadow and into various Prime Material worlds.
Ever since, lurkers have been hiding in the shadows from their erstwhile masters and breeding. Well aware of the evil embodied in the Hegemony, lurkers wait in the shadows and in the tunnels, awaiting the day when the armies of the Hegemony come to their adopted worlds. And when they do come, they find that the resistance to their rule is already there, armed with knowledge, weapons, and undying hate.
Lurkers resemble much-taller, pale, sickly gnomes in leathery black cloaks; the cloaks are actually extensions of their body, which trail mobile tails that they can use in battle. Most lurkers have black or gray hair, and they tend to have red or gray eyes. Lurkers dress for their environment, favoring camouflage patterns and grays, dark blues, and dark greens. Lurkers know better than anyone that black stands out in dark environments and often deliberately dirty or smudge their skin-cloaks to better conceal themselves.
Lurkers are notably intense, giving others the disquieting impression of complete and total attention that may or may not be friendly. They rarely smile, even when genuinely happy, though their tails are highly expressive and are often a good indicator of the lurker’s mood. Lurkers rarely display their weapons openly, and many favor extradimensional storage and hidden pockets to conceal their weapons, tools, and other possessions. Lurkers do not accessorize unless a particular item has a practical or magical use.
Lurkers sometimes come across as totally joyless to others; they are a serious people who labor under the knowledge that at any time of any day, the Hegemony might come at last for the worlds they have claimed as their home. Lurkers prepare against this day, aiding the other mortal races from the shadows and quietly distributing knowledge about the Hegemony well in advance of their arrival. Well aware that their appearance and powers over darkness make them seem evil to many surface races, lurkers prefer to remain out of the limelight and even as part of an adventuring party are quiet and focused.
When lurkers do speak and make themselves known, it is with an almost hypnotic intensity. Lurkers grant their total attention to conversation partners—or victims—and choose their words carefully, only rarely saying anything other than precisely what they mean. Their iron-clad sense of self-identity and the knowledge of their hateful enemy drives them, and makes their eyes shine from within, full of both fury and, often, a quiet nobility.
Lurkers are taught at a young age that there are more worlds than the one they have chosen to call home, and that they owe a debt to the world that shelters them. This idea defines lurker society; though their cloaker heritage gives them a chaotic bent, lurkers feel obligated to the world that has taken them in and do what they can to improve it. Lurkers work tirelessly to distribute beneficial knowledge, clear major trade lanes of monsters, stymie the efforts of evil powers and hide their home from the scouts of the Hegemony. Lurkers organize into families rather than formal power structures, which can make their efforts disjointed, but no lurker would dare to suggest a more strict form of governance, given their status as former slaves.
The lives of these half -breeds are marked by violence, and while lurkers have good intentions some succumb to violence and become evil. Most remain vigilant, altruistic people whose distrust of other races is rooted in practical concerns of acceptance rather than in any feeling of superiority. Lurkers spend a lot of time observing their neighbors, and step in to “correct” problems on the sly at times. Their judgment isn’t always the best, but they also don’t normally kill anyone, so the end result is a head-scratching mystery for law enforcement in the morning along with a few (dozen) knocked out criminals or malcontents.
Lurker adventurers comprise a surprisingly high percentage of the race’s population. Lurkers adventure seeking wealth, magical power with which to resist the Hegemony, for knowledge, or to protect their families and neighbors. Lurkers are often drawn into questionable mercenary groups who do not comment on their sinister appearance, where they form a surprising conscience to restrain the actions of the group—not that they object to working with those of better moral character, when they can attract the attention of such groups.
Lurkers are often oracles, sorcerers, wilders, or warlords, with rangers, rogues, and stalkers also being common. Lurkers have strong magic in their blood and it calls to them to be used; letting it lie fallow is often next to impossible. Lurkers favor subtlety and can swiftly grow irritated with barbarians, cavaliers, fighters, and paladins—especially ones in positions of power that do not understand that “frontal attack” is not the only option. Lurkers see themselves as guests of the world that hosts them and often act with a certain amount of quiet deference to the races native of that world—though like a good friend or servant, they know when to tell these races that they are on a path to self-destruction.
Ability Score Adjustments
Medium: Lurkers are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Other Racial Traits
Speed: Lurkers have a base speed of 30 feet.
Shadow Wrap (Sp): Lurkers can wrap the shadows around themselves. They can use darkness once per day as a spell-like ability centered on themselves. The lurker’s caster level for this ability is equal to its character level.
Fearful Scream (Su) Once per day as a standard action a lurker can let out a terrifying scream. All creatures within 60 feet must make Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 character level + Charisma modifier). Those who fail are shaken for 1d4 rounds. This is a mind-affecting, sonic, fear effect.
Low-light Vision (Ex) Lurkers can see twice as far as humans in dim light.
Darkvision (Ex) Lurkers can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Tail Slap: Lurkers have a long, prehensile tail that can be used to strike at out-of-reach targets. The tail slap deals 1d4 + Strength modifier damage and has an additional 5-ft. of reach.
Languages: Lurkers begin play speaking Common and Aklo. Lurkers with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran, Sylvan
Alternate Racial Traits
Auditory Channels (Ex) Some lurkers have their cloaker progenitor’s ears, allowing them to tune out sound and other sonic effects, thereby gaining immunity to all sonic effects (but not sonic damage) unless they choose to be affected. This replaces shadow wrap.
Disgusting Sound (Ex) Some lurkers are unable to moan and scream, instead able to make a disgusting sound that leaves those who hear it sickened for 1d4+1 rounds unless they succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the lurker’s character level + the lurker’s Charisma modifier). This is a mind-affecting ability. This replaces fearful scream.
Engulf (Ex) Some lurkers lack tails. These lurkers instead gain a flexibility and extra skin that allows it to engulf a grappled opponent when pinning them. When engulfed, the lurker strangles the opponent, which must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 20) to hold their breath. If they fail they can only hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to 1/4 of their Constitution score. This racial trait replaces tail slap.
Unnerving Moan (Ex) Some lurkers are able to unnerve people instead of terrify them. As a standard action, the lurker unleashes a disquieting moan; hostile creatures within 30-ft. must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + ½ the lurker’s character level + the lurker’s Charisma modifier) or become incapable of benefiting from morale bonuses for 1d4+1 rounds. This is a mind-affecting ability. This replaces fearful scream.
Favored Class Options
Harbinger: Add +1/5 to the harbinger’s ill omens.
Stalker: Add +1/6 of an extra Deadly Strike die.
Sorcerer: Add +2% to any shadow spell’s partial effects.
Warlord: Gain +1/5 of a new gambit.
Wilder: Add +1/5 to the wild surge bonus.
Wizard: Add +2% to any shadow spell’s partial effects.
Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens