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Kappa

What might we say about kappa to enlighten the world concerning our nature? We are a people of laughter and good cheer. True, our humor is not always understood by others, we find the sound of breaking bones to be hilarious, but we amuse ourselves first and others second. We love loud jokes, large meals and a good wrestling match. There are many stories told of us, that we eat children, or delight in drowning swimmers. Certainly, we have had our share of villains, but, taken as a whole, we are no more wicked than any other race. Most of us want nothing more than to humble the proud and make the wise man feel foolish. We like to think we are well suited to these tasks. And let us not forget, not only did we break the first bone, but we afterward showed the man how to set it.

We are a people of stories. We love telling tales and we love having tales told of us. We know many stories about ourselves including “The Creation of the First Kappa,” “The First Kappa’s Wife,” and “How the First Kappa drowned the Moon.” We also know the less flattering stories, like “The First Kappa’s First Bow.” Though we don’t tell it often, every kappa child has heard this one and we are not likely to fall for such a trick again; though it seems that every year some soul tries to tip our water in this way. We seldom treat such fools well. We have learned that when one is bowing, one cannot see the kick from behind.

We are a people of strength. Though we are, in the eyes of some, small of stature, we are stronger than most men. It is, perhaps, something of a vanity with us. We delight in wrestling matches and are the creators of the art of bone breaking. It is a martial form we have shared with men, but no man has mastered it as we have. We respect strength and give honor to those who are strongest, regardless of their race.

Typically, we disdain complex weapons of metal, preferring unarmed combat as the true test of superiority. When we do take up arms, however, we prove capable warriors.

We are a people of the water. All know our weakness; if we lose our water we lose our strength, though it is never polite to bring this up to a kappa to his face. But our love for water goes beyond recognizing its importance to our well-being. We love to swim, almost as much as we love to wrestle and a wrestling match in the water is one of the best things in life. Though we dwell upon the land, our hearts are always beneath the waves. We have the best of both worlds and delight in both. Those that dwell upon the land give us reason to laugh. That which is below the water moves our very souls with rapture. Our homes are almost always built in or on or under the water so that we are never far from our beloved.

We are also, to the surprise of some, a people devoted to familial relations. All kappa can tell you the names of their relations backwards, forwards, inside and out. Our brother’s wife’s cousin’s son’s uncle is known to us by name, though we may have only met him once and may not even like the fellow. Though we live in small groups, even leaving home at a young age to make our own way in the world, we find a sort of peace in knowing who we can call upon in times of need.

It takes a special sort of emergency to make us call in such favors, but when such a call comes, we are there. Our family gatherings are likewise well attended, though they may only occur once every ten or twenty years.

Physical Description: The kappa form has frequently been likened to that of a turtle, primarily because of our shells and the color of our skin. While there is an assumption among many that our skin is scaled, this is not actually the case, though it is frequently knobby and wrinkled. Our thick skin tends toward a green coloration, speckled and freckled with brown or dark green spots. However, yellow and even some blue kappa exist. We walk with a stooped gait and some take this to mean we are ungainly. Such is not the case. We are quite limber, both in and out of the water.

We possess webbed toes and webbed hands. The skin on our feet is quite thick and we generally eschew shoes as they interfere with our ability to swim. We do have hair, dark tones mostly, though we frequently keep our heads shaved. Our eyes are typically small, possessing a brown coloration, tinted with red (though green eyes are also common). Our noses are large, some would say almost beak-like. As can be easily seen when we laugh, we have a multitude of teeth. We are very much omnivorous in our dietary habits, though we prefer fish to red meats (and yes, our favorite vegetable is the cucumber). Our other telling feature is the “bowl” we each possess atop our heads within which we keep our life-sustaining water.

Kappa stand two to two-and-a-half feet tall, which we think is a perfect height. We typically weigh approximately twenty to fifty pounds, though as we grow older, our shells often grow harder and denser.

Society: A kappa’s immediate family tends to be small but our extended families are very large. A husband and wife will have from one to three children and children typically leave home upon reaching maturity. Despite this apparent detachment, kappa are very loyal to family, being aware of familial connections, no matter how slender.

Before marriage, we sometimes form small gangs, seldom numbering more than five, with which we may travel for a time. Friendships so formed command a loyalty akin to that demanded by family ties and it is common for the children of friends to be encouraged to marry in order to strengthen these ties even further.

There are very few kappa villages. We prefer to live in isolated areas next to a body of water. Despite this, we know every other kappa for miles around, and we consider any kappa, no matter how distant, to be a neighbor. We have a saying concerning the waterways by which we dwell: “All water flows to the sea,” which we use to mean that we are all connected. We are a rather individualistic lot, making decisions for ourselves and our spouses, and expecting others to do the same. When there is a need, a kappa can call an assembly. At such times, the one who called for the assembly is nominally in charge, though the eldest male and female kappa in such an assembly are also looked to for leadership. (And we seldom attend assemblies called by those we don’t like.) We have few true laws but the decisions of an assembly, ratified by a popular vote, are generally honored.

Besides assemblies called for serious business, we also gather with other kappa in order to hold celebrations (and sometimes the more serious meetings devolve into the less formal gatherings). At such times we feast and wrestle and tell grand stories about ourselves. Similarly, we hold infrequent family reunions which are celebratory in nature. At such reunions we remind ourselves of familial ties and learn of any new additions or marriages.

At such times we feast and wrestle and tell grand stories about ourselves. Similarly, we hold infrequent family reunions which are celebratory in nature. At such reunions we remind ourselves of familial ties and learn of any new additions or marriages.

Though we may not see one another for years at a time, any relation formed by a kappa is a lasting relation. Reunions, whether between family or friends, are happy affairs: an excuse to shirk work and pursue fun. At such times we often seek out non-kappa for amusement and some of our best jokes are the result of such endeavors. One must not think that we actively pursue such opportunities.

We say to ourselves, “Long absences foster better feelings,” and “Laughter is best with distant kin.

Relationships with Other Races: Our race has a love of laughter and practical jokes.

Though we are not entirely frivolous, “Laughter scares away the fish,” other might be excused for thinking such of us, for when we encounter nonkappa, we frequently seek to entertain ourselves at their expense. We especially enjoy making fools of the larger races, humans in particular. This does put a bit of a damper on the fires of possible friendship. Those who are willing to tolerate our humor nevertheless find us to be loyal friends, regardless of race.

We seldom trade with other races. Each kappa tries to live as autonomously as possible, making what he needs, taking what he can’t from those too weak to hold on to it. We prefer to win such spoils in wrestling matches. Sometimes this is viewed as banditry, but we think of it as proper sportsmanship. We are not stealing; we are competing and quite willing to accept a loss in such a match. After all, “both victory and loss bring gain to the wise.” However, “a kappa in water cannot be beat,” and we are not above trying to make sure we have the upper hand before engaging in such sport.

We are friendliest perhaps with the hengeyokai and if we do trade, it is with them. We find their civilized ways a bit stifling and, doubtlessly, they find our lack of manners off-putting. But we keep our visits brief and there are seldom quarrels.

We also revere the kami as we encounter them, though our definition of reverence is not always to their liking.

We do not war openly with any race, having neither armies nor domains. If we fight, we do so as individuals or small bands. We fight to protect family and homes, though we are pragmatists and few of our race will lay down their lives when it would be just as easy to move. We can rebuild homes. It is not so easy to rebuild lives.

Nevertheless, we dislike being forced to do anything and, though we may wait years, we will have our moment of revenge.

Alignment and Religion: We are not a people of laws. Indeed, we tend to be rather free-spirited. Likewise, while we are not a people overly concerned with virtue, neither are we overly wicked. We typically avoid causes, preferring small personal struggles and a simple kind of life. A rather chaotic sort of neutrality might define our racial attitude, if one was given to such musings. Likewise, we are not an especially religious sort of race. We acknowledge the gods and all the spirits, indeed it would be folly to deny them, but we build few shrines and even fewer temples. Sometimes a kappa may find that he has built his home near to some sacred grove or shrine. When this happens, we venerate the spirits of that shrine as appropriate, knowing that “angry neighbors are a bitter stream.” Otherwise we do not go out of our way to worship, though neither do we go out of our way to make the courts of heaven angry at us. We consider it a blessing to be small and overlooked, by men, gods and oni alike.

Languages: As a race, we speak a dialect of what some men would call the goblin tongue, though we naturally think of it as kappa. We also know the tongue of men and some of us know the languages of the forest and water spirits. We are not an especially book-learned race. Though some of our race will occasionally develop a scholarly bent, for the most part, we find such pursuits to be rather tedious and unprofitable.

Adventurers: As we grow older, our shells grow thicker and we grow more settled in our ways. We desire only the comforts of a warm home and a calm river. When we are young our blood rushes like the rapids and we feel as restless as an ocean shore. It is then that we leave the comforts of our parents’ dwellings and make our way out into the world, traveling to find excitement and amusement. Sometimes we will take up with those of other races, though such occurrences are rare. We simply feel more comfortable around other kappa. Nevertheless, if non-kappa are properly respectful, willing to laugh at themselves, and, above all, interesting, they make for tolerable companions. Those we adventure with, can, over time, become as close to us as family.

Names: Kappa are an uncomplicated race and our naming conventions show this truth. We seldom have surnames, though we might have nicknames. Our given names are short, easily said and normally monosyllabic. Male names are most often formed with either a long or short “o” sound. Female names are typically fashioned using either a short “a” or “i” sound.

  • Example Male Names Boi, Bok Chol, Lonn, Koy, Montoi, Suun, and Yom.
  • Example Female Names Ada, Bai, Inya, Mint, Nadi, Sia and Zhai.

Kappa Characters

Kappa are small, two-and-a-half feet tall, turtlelike humanoids, complete with a shell. They possess webbed hands and feet, and large, beaklike noses. Despite their appearance, they are warm-blooded, quasi-mammalian creatures whom some scholars speculate may be vaguely related to goblins. Their most curious feature is the bowl atop their heads which holds water within it.

Kappa Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Modifiers: Kappa are surprisingly strong for their size. They gain +2 Strength.
  • Size: Kappa are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
  • Base Speed: Kappa have a base speed of 20 feet.
  • Languages: Kappa begin play speaking Common and Goblin. Kappa with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following languages: Aquan, Celestial, Giant, and Sylvan. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.

Defense Racial Traits

Feat and Skill Racial Traits

  • Yokai traits: Kappa always count Stealth and Survival as class skills.
  • Natural Swimmers: Kappa have a swim speed of 40 feet and as such they do not have to make a swim check in order to swim under normal circumstances. They have a +8 racial bonus to swim checks to perform a special action or avoid a hazard. Though kappa cannot breathe water, they are able hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to four times their Constitution score before making drowning checks. Nor do standard or full-round actions reduce this time.

Offense Racial Traits

  • Claws: Kappa have a natural claw attack which deals 1d3 points of damage.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Kappa treat any weapon with the word “kappa” in its name as a martial weapon.

Senses Racial Traits

Weakness Racial Traits

  • Kappa Weakness: Each kappa has an indentation on the top of its head which holds water. This water will not tip out in the normal course of events, including when making Acrobatics checks and during combat. A kappa may voluntarily drain his own water, or another may attempt to force it out. Those who successfully grapple a kappa may, as a full-round action, attempt a Combat Maneuver which will drain some of the kappa’s water. Each such successful check inflicts 2 points of Strength and Dexterity damage to the kappa; Strength and Dexterity may not be lowered below 6 in this way. (Disabled and otherwise helpless kappa may be drained without a check at the same rate.) A kappa can restore any ability damage inflicted in this way by submersing himself in water for one round.

Alternate Racial Traits

The following racial traits replace or complement the above kappa racial traits. Consult your GM before selecting any of these options.

  • Goblin Nature: Scholars think there is goblin blood in the kappa race and kappa with this trait seem to prove the theory. Kappa with this racial trait have the goblinoid subtype and the following ability adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -2 Wisdom.
  • Hard-Shelled: Some kappa have a harder shell. Kappa with this racial trait possess a natural armor bonus of +4. These kappa are a little less limber and suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls.
  • Kami-friend: Some kappa are more attuned to the spiritual world than others. Kappa with this racial trait are able to cast the following spells 1/day: dancing lights, ghost sound, pass without trace, and prestidigitation. They have a +2 bonus to saving throws made against charm spells. This racial trait replaces the natural wrestler racial trait.
  • Natural Prankster: All kappa love a good practical joke but some are worse than others. These kappa have the following ability adjustments: +2 Charisma, – 2 Wisdom.
  • Soft-shelled: Some kappa have a softer shell. Kappa with this racial trait possess a natural armor bonus of only +1. These Kappa are a little more limber than other kappa and have a +2 bonus to Acrobatics checks.
Image used by permission of Purple Duck Games.
Random Kappa Starting Ages
Adulthood Intuitive1 Self-Taught2 Trained3
14 years +2d4 years
(16-22 years)
+4d4 years
(18-30 years)
+6d4 years
(20-40 years)

1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards.

Table: Aging Effects
Race Middle Age Old Venerable Maximum Age
Cumulative Effects –1 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha –2 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha –3 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha GM secretly determines Maximum
Kappa 100 years 300 years 500 years 500 + 7d20 years
Random Kappa Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Male & Female 22 in. +2d4 in.
(24 – 30 in.)
10 lbs. +(2d4 x 5 lbs.)
(20 – 50 lbs.)

Kappa Adventurers

Kappa prefer martial classes. They are not a blood-thirsty race, but they are, as a rule, fond of physical combat. Nevertheless, kappa who pursue more academic studies throw themselves into their roles.

  • Alchemist (Rentanjutsu) Few kappa follow alchemical pursuits, though those that take up the study do so vigorously. Indeed, blowing things up is an activity well suited to the kappa sense of humor.
  • Barbarian (Emishi) Kappa are stereotypically uncivilized and have a love of physical activity. Despite their small size they make good barbarians and many kappa adventurers are of this class.
  • Bard (Bakushi) Kappa bards are stereotypically loud jokesters with a knack for playing a wide variety of instruments. There are not many kappa bards but it is a respected occupation and bards are always in demand during times of celebration. Unfortunately for the kappa bards, when there is no such celebration, no one wants to feed and house them for long, so they are forced to wander in search of another gathering.
  • Cavalier (Hatamoto) Although kappa legends speak of heroic kappa riding into battle atop fearsome turtle-beasts, there are no modern kappa cavalier societies and kappa cavaliers are practically non-existent.
  • Cleric (Kappa-kannushi) Though kappa aren’t particularly religious, those with a close association to a particular shrine may adopt the veneration of the the spirit of that shrine. Such kappa sometimes leave their shrines for some spirit quest, taking up adventuring for only a brief while.
  • Druid (Henge-kannushi) Kappa druids, being kannushi who focus exclusively on the veneration of nature in all her forms, are extremely rare. Adventuring kappa druids even more so.
  • Fighter (Kappa-Bushi) Kappa make excellent fighters, though as a race they disdain armor, preferring to focus on a more aggressive offense and their own natural defenses.
  • Inquisitor (Metsuki) Few kappa take up the role of the metsuki, for doing so would require them to work for another and kappa are naturally loathe to do this. Those that do are extremely loyal to their masters and are typically good at their jobs.
  • Monk (Budoka) Most kappa don’t have the discipline to pursue the monk class, preferring the bone-breaker paragon class instead. Kappa who become monks can be very fearsome, making use of their natural defenses even as they shatter the bones of their opponents.
  • Oracle (Miko) Kappa miko are extremely rare, as kappa prefer the older ways of venerating the kami represented by the shugenja class. Some kappa miko, however, do exist, and they adventure for the same reasons as the shugenja.
  • Paladin (Yamabushi) Kappa almost never belong to the paladin class. Any exceptions were probably raised by non-kappa.
  • Ranger (Matagi) Kappa are an independent lot and the ranger class is well suited to their sensibilities.
  • Ranger (Matagi) Kappa are an independent lot and the ranger class is well suited to their sensibilities.
  • Rogue (Huryo, Gorotsuki) Many kappa adventurers pursue roguish talents. Good-natured rogues are affectionately referred to as huryo. Thuggish rogues are gorotsuki.
  • Sorcerer (Jugondo) Kappa who show signs of sorcerous talent are seldom fully accepted by other kappa. They are treated well but encouraged to “see the world.”
  • Summoner (Yobukami) Most kappa are leery of the idea of binding spirits. Culturally they understand spirits are meant to be placated, not summoned. Those kappa who can summon spirits are respected and feared, but seldom truly welcomed.
  • Witch (Mahoutsukai) Few kappa take up witchcraft, though fearful respect is given to those with such skills.
  • Wizard (Sen) Few young kappa pursue the arts of wizardry. When they grow older and more settled, some seclude themselves and begin to practice magic. Such elders are highly respected and their advice is honored. Even though most kappa think them likely insane, it is assumed to be a benevolent sort of insanity.

Favored Class Options

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever he gains a level in a favored class, a kappa has the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending on his favored class.

The following options are available to all kappa who have the listed favored class, and unless stated otherwise, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward. Fractional bonuses have no effect until enough are taken to form a whole number.

  • Alchemist (Rentanjutsu) Add 1/2 to bomb damage.
  • Barbarian (Emishi) Add 1 to the kappa’s total number of rage rounds per day.
  • Bard (Bakushi) Add +1/2 to Performance checks made when performing in front of a kappa audience.
  • Bone-Breaker Add +1/4 to the kappa’s natural armor bonus.
  • Bone-Breaker Add +1 to the kappa’s CMD when resisting a grapple or bull-rush attempt.
  • Cleric (Kappa-kannushi) Add +1/2 to Diplomacy checks made when dealing with creatures possessing the kami, fey or elemental subtype.
  • Cleric (Kappa-kannushi) Gain energy resistance 1 against either cold or acid damage. Each time the kappa selects this reward, increase his resistance to one of these energy types by 1 (maximum 10 for any one type).
  • Fighter (Kappa-Bushi) Add +1/4 to the kappa’s natural armor bonus.
  • Ranger (Matagi) Add +1/2 to Stealth checks made out of doors in a natural environment.
  • Ranger (Matagi) Add a +1/2 bonus to wild empathy checks to influence aquatic animals and magical beast.
  • Sorcerer (Jugondo) Gain energy resistance 1 against either cold or acid damage. Each time the kappa selects this reward, increase his resistance to one of these energy types by 1 (maximum 10 for any one type).
  • Sorcerer (Jugondo) Add +1/2 to water or cold spell damage.
  • Wizard (Sen) Add +1/2 to Stealth checks made out of doors in a natural environment.
  • Wizard (Sen) Add +1/2 to water or cold spell damage.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

In the Company of Kappa copyright 2011, Steve D. Russell and Michael Tumey. All rights reserved; Author: Jonathan McAnulty