Murks are, perhaps, an inevitable consequence of the interactions between orcs and troglodytes. Both races are savage and violent, and when they live near each other conflict or war tends to be the result. Murks are the results either of peace treaties sealed by marriage (a rare event indeed) or, more commonly, slaves and prisoners taken by one or both sides who are subsequently abused. Murks are raised into savagery, amongst those who do not respect them, and commanded to prosper or die.
Luckily, murks are equipped to do just that.
Murks can sometimes be mistaken for trolls; they are large, muscular, and green or gray of skin, with long noses, wide eyes, and a tendency to grow long, bristly hairs on their heads. Closer looks reveal orc-like teeth, webbed digits, and a certain sheen to their skin (the result of their scented sweat) that makes them seem wet or moist most of the time.
The fact that murks are often dressed in little or no clothing or armor is the result of the culture they’re raised in rather than any true preference. Murks raised amongst orcs do tend to wear clothing and favor heavier armors, though murks tend not to wear boots or gauntlets so as not to painfully restrict their hands and feet (murks who acquire enough wealth sometimes replace magical gloves and boots with enchanted bracers and greaves instead). Murks don’t take to tattoos particularly well (their sweat prevents the ink from setting properly) but they may practice scarification.
Murks tend to pick up attitudes remarkably similar to the race they’re raised with, though it is notable that their keen senses and insight make them more pragmatic and, perhaps, empathetic than their “brethren”. Murks pay attention, partially out of raw survival instinct but also because their senses are simply sharper and more useful. Murks know that they see things that others miss, smell things that others cannot, and hear sounds that others might not, and they treasure these experiences as something they possess which cannot be taken away from them.
Murks are cautious in comparison to their fellows, which may get them labeled as cowards but sometimes ends with the murk being taken on as a valued advisor. Murks have insight that orcs, especially, can find valuable in their war plans, and murks may find themselves in charge of small strike forces and saboteurs that do the subtle things orcish hordes or troglodyte tribes normally do not, and can gain quite a bit of status and prestige in the doing.
Though murks are generally the children of battlefield atrocities, they are also raised in societies which, by and large, do not care about that. The result is that murks get “accepted” into their cultures the same way everyone else is—prosper or die. Brutality shapes the murks’ lives and informs who they are as sapient beings, and few ever bother to attempt to rise above the violence with which they are raised. With a lack of access to education and a tendency to favor the racial gods of their parent cultures, murks grow up ignorant, savage, and bloodthirsty, and most live fast and die young. The ones that do not are fearsome things, the veterans of horrific battles and unspeakable atrocity.
Murks who leave home tend to do so because they feel they’re better off elsewhere. With almost no marketable skills beyond their talents for tracking, spying, and murder, murks fall into adventuring so they can afford food to eat and a roof to sleep under, and stay in adventuring because they are, often, good at it. The caution they learned in their homelands means that murks will often hang back rather than charge into deadly traps, and as a result live where others often die. Murks respect strength and cunning, and have more than enough experiences with witches and clerics to fear the power of such spellcasters, but tend to look on in confusion or distaste at druids, paladins, and others who venerate a cause above themselves, since even the clerics they are familiar with worship the dark gods of the orcs specifically to gain power for themselves.
Ability Score Adjustments
Medium: Murks are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Other Racial Traits
Speed: Murks have a base speed of 30 feet.
Scaled Hide (Ex) Murks have a thick, scaled hide that increases their natural armor bonus by 2.
Darkvision (Ex) a murk can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Stress Sweat (Ex) A murk sweats when stressed (such as during combat). This musky scent is powerful enough to temporarily destroy a creature’s sense of smell. Anyone fighting with the murk must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 character level + Constitution modifier) or be sickened for 1 minute. It is not possible to track a murk by scent for more than 1d4 minutes, after which the tracker cannot use its scent for 1d6 hours.
Maw (Ex) A murk’s face takes after their troglodyte parent and grants them a bite that deals 1d4 damage.
Languages: Murk begin play speaking Common and Orc. Murk with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Giant, or Goblin.
Alternate Racial Traits
Draconic (Ex) Some murks bear a striking resemblance to dragons, which their orcish parents sometimes take credit for. These murks have energy resistance 5 to one energy type (chosen at character creation). This replaces stress sweat.
Feral Murk (Ex) Some murks are exiled from the tribe at a young age due to their lack of their parent’s darkvision. Left to fend for themselves they have learned a new level of brutality. They increase their critical threat range with their bite attack by 1. This replaces darkvision.
Lizardspawn (Ex) “Murk” is a general term used by orcs to denote the mixing of orc blood with their enemy. Some murks are actually the product of lizardfolk and orc bondings—founded over the appearance of a mutual enemy into their personal territory wars. Lizardfolk murks have the ability to swim and hold their breath to a greater extent. They gain a +4 racial bonus on swim checks and can hold their breath for 1 minute per Constitution point. This replaces stress sweat.
Projectile Vomit (Su) Some murks (thankfully) lack the chemical in their sweat that causes it to nauseate. However, as some murks prize this stench they have learned to accommodate for the lack of it. These murks have developed the ability to projectile vomit as a standard action out to 30 feet as a ranged touch attack every 1d4 rounds. When a target is hit by this horrid stream they must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 character level + Constitution modifier) or be sickened for 1 minute. This replaces stress sweat.
Small (Ex) Some murks are rumored to be the product of kobold–orc crossbreeding (though the orcs deny this rumor vehemently) due to their lack of stature. These “small scales” are small sized and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC and attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks. This replaces medium size
Favored Class Options
Alchemist: Add +1/2 to the DC of the stress sweat or projectile vomit racial ability.
Ranger: Add +1/6 bonus on damage rolls against the target of your quarry.
Sorcerer: Add +1/2 to acid spell damage.
Stalker: Add +1/6 of an extra deadly strikes die.
Warlord: +1/4 bonus to battle prowess.
Bloodforge, © 2017, Dreamscarred Press, LLC; Author: Matthew Ryan Medeiros, Jade Ripley, based on material by Owen K.C. Stephens