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Noble Porpoise

Porpoises are the smallest of the toothed whales. It resembles the dolphin, but is smaller—seldom more than six feet (1.8 m) long—and has a blunt muzzle instead of a pointed one. Porpoises have thick bodies, and either one dorsal fin or none. They are warm-blooded and air-breathing, and give birth to live young, which they suckle. Porpoises emit a variety of sounds to communicate with one another. Like other toothed whales, they use echolocation (which is similar in principle to sonar) to avoid obstacles and locate prey.

Porpoises inhabit all oceans except the polar oceans. They are found near shore and in bays, and occasionally swim up rivers. They travel in schools, feeding on fish and shellfish. The female gives birth to one calf. At birth a calf is about three feet (90 cm) long.

Dolphins are a toothed whale that is related to the porpoise. The dolphin has a long, streamlined body; some species have a prominent beak-like snout. The dolphin travels in schools and can swim at a speed of up to 25 mph (40 km/h). After a gestation period of one year, the female gives birth to one young. The young suckles for up to two years.

Dolphins are intelligent, playful animals. They emit a variety of sounds to communicate with other dolphins. Like other toothed whales, they use echolocation (which is similar in principle to sonar) to avoid obstacles and to locate prey.

Bottle-nosed dolphins belong to the same family as killer whales and pilot whales. They, too, live and travel in social groups. Some people call this group a pod, but others call it a school. A school usually has about 12 dolphins. Some schools may combine to form a herd of up to 1,000 dolphins. A bottle-nosed dolphin school is not just a place to live. It’s also a place to learn. Young calves learn by imitating their mothers or other adult dolphins. Calves turn, dive, and surface—right along with the adults.

All toothed whales have teeth, but the teeth of a porpoise are different from those of a dolphin. A dolphin has pointy, cone-shaped teeth. But a porpoise has rounded teeth. A porpoise has a smaller head than a dolphin does. And a porpoise has a rounded snout. Most porpoises also have small dorsal fins. The finless porpoise, as you might guess, has no dorsal fin at all.

Species Descriptions

Porpoises and dolphins both have reputations of friendliness and heroism, as well as great intelligence. Part of the reason for this is that the noble population among cetaceans is higher than that of any other animal. They have an ancient and complex society, prizing the development of the mind above all else, and most have entered into alliances with aquatic elves or merfolk.

They hate sharks and sahuaguin with a passion, and will fight either of them to the death in order to protect even members of other species.

Noble porpoises and dolphins should only be available as player characters in an aquatic campaign. The GM should also include psionics rules if he allows players to use either species.

Noble Porpoise Species Traits

  • Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity.
  • Size: Medium.
  • Base Speed: Swim 60 feet. (the porpoise has no ability to move on dry land at all).
  • Natural Weapons: Slam (2d4).
  • Senses: Low-light vision (Ex), Blindsight 120 ft. (Ex): Noble porpoises can “see” by emitting high frequency sounds, inaudible to most other creatures, that allow them to locate objects and creatures within 120 feet. A silence spell negates this and forces the porpoise to rely on its vision.
  • Hold Breath (Ex): A noble porpoise can hold its breath for a number of rounds equal to 6x its Constitution score before it risks drowning.
  • Bonus Feat: Weapon Finesse.
  • Skills: +8 racial bonus to any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. A noble porpoise can always take 10 on Swim checks, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line. A noble porpoise has a +4 racial bonus on Perception checks. These bonuses are lost if its blindsight is negated.
  • Family: Mammal.
  • Noble Animal Type: Noble porpoises have the noble animal type except where superseded by other species traits and features.
  • Social Group: School.
  • Automatic Languages: High Fauna and Whale.
  • Bonus Languages: Canine, Common, Crocodilian, Equine, Feline, Monitor, Raptor, Rodent, Serpent, Simian, and Songbird.

Noble Dolphin Sub-Species Traits

  • Natural Weapons: Slam (1d6). Lacking the hardened beak of the noble porpoise, noble dolphins do less damage on average when they ram a foe.
  • Skills: Dolphins can use the Acrobatics skill to leap from the water.
  • Social Group: Pod.

In all other ways, the noble dolphin shares the same species traits and level progression as the noble porpoise. Both noble porpoises and dolphins use the small cetacean character class if they wish to advance in their natural abilities.

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to a noble porpoise character who meets the prerequisites.

  • Linked Feat

Noble Small Cetacean Character Class

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills

The noble small ceteacean’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Perception (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: Noble Small Cetacean
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +0 +2 +2 +0 Ability increase (Dex +2), speed increase, natural armor +1
2nd +1 +3 +3 +0 Ability increase (Dex +2), speed increase, natural armor +2

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the noble small cetacean class.

Ability Increase

At 1st and 2nd level your Dexterity score increases by +2.

Natural Armor

At 1st and 2nd level you gain a +1 Natural Armor bonus.

Speed Increase

At each level, your Swim Speed increases by 10 ft.

Alternative Racial Traits

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.

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Favored Class Alternatives

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, noble porpoises have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to all noble porpoises who have the listed Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.

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Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Noble Wild. Copyright 2009 by Lee Garvin and Skirmisher Publishing LLC.