The world-devouring Phrenic Hegemony moves from plane to plane, crushing Material Plane civilizations where they find them and converting their inhabitants into more psionic abominations for their war machine, always seeking to expand the variety of the horrors they inflict upon others. Sometimes they get, shall we say, sidetracked.
The fact of the matter is that the departments that handle forced evolution, mutation, and racial manipulation have quite a bit of power in the Hegemony, as well as a nearly unlimited budget and universal approval for their experiments (no matter how sadistic, pointless, or ill-advised). Every now and again an apprentice is attempting to prove themselves, or a master fleshcrafter gets so terribly bored, and abominations like the lashers—the results of dwarves mixed with ropers—are the results. Most of the time these side projects wash out and are abandoned to die out on their own.
Other times, like the lashers, they are deemed usable and kept on as living weapons, to be turned against the races that spawned them as a scourge of madness and terror.
Lashers are hideous by almost every standard; they are built like dwarves, though significantly heavier, with an oddly flexible stone-like hide that coats their bodies. Lashers may have remnants of hair on their heads, in various colors, though many do not. A lasher’s eyes are one solid color, with no visible pupil, and their teeth are blunt, crushing blocks of bone. Their skin ripples and pulses in a disquieting fashion, which becomes pulsing shockwaves of motion when they extend their arms to attack.
Lashers wear whatever clothing and armor they like (and can acquire) but never cover their arms with anything more than light cloth. Lashers that serve the Hegemony tend to favor dwarven weapons out of a perverse sense of irony; others use whatever they can find or purchase. In either event, lashers do not normally bother with cosmetic improvements or possessions that do not have a clear and definable use
Lashers surprise outsiders with their discipline; despite their insane origins, lashers are ultimately raised by lawful beings, which instill in them a sense of loyalty, service, and methodical planning. Regardless of their loyalty, lashers understand about patience, humility, pragmatism and efficiency, and those values express themselves to others as a quiet competence and professionalism.
Lashers loyal to their creators tend to be zealots, believing themselves to be the footsoldiers of a glorious purpose that will shape the Material Plane into something far greater than it has ever been. Though far from the ruling class of the Hegemony, they take pride in their martial might and the vital role they play for their masters in subduing dwarven civilizations and then, in turn, other ‘lesser’ races.
Lashers that have rebelled run the gamut. Some are driven insane by fragmented memories from their previous existence as dwarves and flee into the wilderness, becoming little more than murderous predators. The majority leave because they can no longer tolerate the yoke of slavery. Some never learn how to stop running. Others yearn for true contact with peers and fellow sapients and begin the difficult process of finding acceptance. Both examples share a burning hatred for their former masters that drives them to stunning acts of violence against the aberrations.
Lashers were all dwarves at some point in their lives, and were captured or sold to the Phrenic Hegemony. Though some lashers are created from mighty dwarven heroes and retain much more of their memories, most were more ordinary dwarven citizens—primarily because the mighty heroes are resistant to the mental conditioning in the transformation process, retain all of their deadly skills, and as a result cost a fortune in destroyed equipment and murdered assistants. With few memories from their previous life, lashers are taught the basic skills—reading, writing, mathematics, equipment maintenance—and then shuffled into the Hegemony’s war machine for further, more specialized education. Training is brutal, and not all lashers survive it.
Lashers that escape typically do so after deployment, since escape before then is difficult. Mostly they run, and learn valuable survival skills (or else die) while on their own. The others—those who remain loyal—become part of long-term campaigns against dwarven cities and, later, other underground and mountainous cultures. As shock troops, cannon fodder, special forces and even sometimes spies, these lashers form the strong foundation of Hegemony attacks in those regions and have been distinguished as being able to create excellent results with few resources.
As soldiers for the Hegemony, lashers learn valuable skills that lead them into the psychic warrior, marksman, ranger, rogue, and stalker classes. Lashers who show promise are sometimes trained as dreads or psions instead; these are not “wasted” on the front lines and are instead expected to undergo specialized missions in the name of their masters.
“Wild” or escaped lashers sometimes turn to divine magic to gain the power needed to resist their erstwhile masters, though most often they continue to refine the training they received as members of the Hegemony. Lashers understand about combined arms and mixed-focus tactics and are unlikely to judge others based on their skill set, instead being concerned about how well those others fit into a team and overall structure. Lashers take a very practical attitude about race, seeing it mostly as a series of strengths and weaknesses that can inform them about an individual rather than an inherent mark of “worth”.
Ability Score Adjustments
Medium: Lashers are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size
Other Racial Traits
Slow and Steady (Ex) Lashers have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed cannot be reduced by armor or encumbrance
Thick-skinned (ex): A Lasher’s leathery skin increases its natural armor bonus by 1.
Extend (Ex) Lashers can extend their reach by an additional 5 ft., plus 5-ft. per 5 character levels. They suffer a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls when attacking beings outside of the normal reach for their size
Mutation (Ex) Each lasher is a unique mutation. They gain a heritage feat as a bonus feat.
Darkvision (Ex) Lashers can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Languages: Lashers begin play speaking Common and Aklo. Lashers with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Dwarven, Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran, or Undercommon.
Alternate Racial Traits
Extending Jaw (Ex) Some lashers lack the limb-strength to crush their enemies as casually as their cousins but have inherited the ability to extend their jaw, gaining a bite that deals 1d6 damage. This replaces constrict.
Rubbery Pummel (Ex) Some lashers are adept at using their flexible form to pummel foes into a stupor. When these lashers succeed on a grapple check they may forgo the normal effects of a grapple to render their target flatfooted for 1 round. This replaces thick-skinned.
Stability (Ex) Some lashers have the stability of their dwarven progenitor instead of the tough flesh of their lasher, gaining a +4 racial bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense when resisting bull rush or trip attempts while standing on the ground. This racial trait replaces thick-skinned.
Whipping Blows (Ex) Some lashers are mutated in a very specific way, their rubbery arms are capable of painful blows. They gain 2 slam attacks that deal 1d4 damage each. This replaces mutation.
Favored Class Options
Cleric: Select one domain power granted at 1st level that is normally usable for a number of times per day equal to 3 + the cleric’s Wisdom modifier. The cleric adds 1/2 to the number of uses per day of that domain power.
Dread: Add +1/4 to the number of times a day the terror ability can be used.
Marksman: Add +1/2 to the daily uses of the marksman’s wind reader ability.
Soulknife: Gain +1/6 of a new blade skill.
Stalker: Gain +1/6 of a new stalker art
Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens