Zahajin (singular and plural) are mostly humanoid, with a blend of various traits reminiscent of aquatic life— stinging anemone-tentacle “hair”, lionfish spines, soft brightly-colored skin or transparent flesh, and numerous other possibilities. They bear vestigial finned arms along their legs, and often display other additional (and frequently non-functional) limbs. Among the zahajin, gender is a varied and complex concept, and blending of what humans see as gendered traits in individuals is extremely common.
This race of ichthyic humanoids originated in the Darkwild. The Darkwild is a tangle of roots and cliffs, steep tunnels and rushing rivers. As a result, the zahajin have evolved into unparalleled climbers and swimmers. They easily cling to surfaces smoother than water-slicked limestone, and their twisting legs make them powerful swimmers. Zahajin are unaccustomed to flat land, where they move carefully. In all cases, the movement of zahajin is lithe and sensuous, thanks to fey influence.
Most Zahajin cannot survive without near-constant exposure to aetherite radiation. This isn’t just a physical malady; zahajin are addicted to the crystallized ley-lines’ psychic resonance. In its absence, zahajin quickly become sullen and unstable as their perception of reality warps and their intoxicating dreams fade. In time, they lapse into nightmare-haunted comas, writhing in pain until their aetherite-deprived organs fail.
Society: Zahajin society is a chaotic throng of hunter/gatherer tribes. Some are nomadic, wandering the layers of the Darkwild, while others settle villages among the tree-roots and tunnels. Most tribes are led by spellcasters; these are mostly sorcerers, bards, and mediums. The unquestioned rulers of the zahajin, however, are the fey lords. Many tribes pay homage to them, both individually and collectively, and individual zahajin view them with an almost religious awe. For their part, the fey lords are neither aloof nor distant, mixing with their subjects as the whim takes them; numerous fey bloodlines among the zahajin are testament to their attention.
In addition to the fey lords, zahajin revere aetherite itself. In places, they create marvelous and exotic shrines to the crystal—twisting lattices and spirals, forests of crystal “trees”, and many others—while in other places, they harness its telekinetic potential to create powerful traps or bridges and walls of invisible force.
For sustenance, zahajin rely on hunting, aetherite radiation, and various gathered flora and fungi; their society has little concept of agriculture. Zahajin swarm along the tunnel walls and ceilings of the Darkwild when on the hunt, using their instinctual sensitivity to aetherite emanations to follow and corner prey. Most can unerringly find their way among the maze of tunnels using this psychic instinct.
Zahajin culture is highly encouraging of creative and artistic pursuits and they are fascinated by pleasing designs or beautiful songs, eagerly sharing their works among their own kind. Their creativity is fueled both by desire for their fey masters’ attention and by the dreamtrances that zahajin experience instead of mundane sleep.
Some seek out intoxicating substances to intensify these dreams, while others commune with aetherite deposits in search of inspiration.
Due to traditions formed in the wake of the ancient war, internecine bloodshed is uncommon and frowned upon; zahajin are deeply loath to slay their own. Instead, social warfare is common, whether between tribes or individuals. A wronged zahajin might seduce away a rival’s lover or turn the tribe against a rival through persuasive oration. Magically talented zahajin often enchant or curse those who have wronged them. These principles apply in intertribal conflict as well; a tribe’s sorcerers and mesmerists might charm rival tribes’ warriors away or dominate rival leaders.
Relations: The only (known) Material culture to which the zahajin have any connection is the erahthi, against whom they bear millennia-old resentment. This hatred is fueled by the zahajin collective consciousness, which is still plagued by haunting memories of their slaughter.
Additionally, the fey lords’ recollection of that ancient war is forever fresh—memories of the butchering of their zahajin, the deaths of their fellow fey, and of the emotional echoes of fear and hate resounding through the psychically-charged Darkwild. This drives many of the fey lords to paranoia, watching vigilantly for threats from above; in the wake of erahthi aetherite-harvesting during the Century War, the fey lords ready their zahajin for battle.
Common Zahajin Racial Traits
- Ability Score Modifiers +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, –2 Wisdom: Zahajin are naturally nimble, and millennia of shaping by the fey have given them a potent mystique and strength of personality. However, aetherite exposure has made them dreamy and easily manipulated.
- Type: Zahajin are humanoids with the aquatic and zahajin subtypes.
- Size: Zahajin have no size adjustments.
- Speed: Zahajin have a land speed of 20 ft. and a swim speed of 40 ft.
- Senses: Zahajin have adapted to the dim glows of the Darkwild and gain low-light vision.
- Languages: Zahajin begin play knowing only Zahaj-el. Zahajin with high Intelligence can choose from the following: Aklo, Aquan, Common, Erahthi, or Sylvan.
- Amphibious: Zahajin have the aquatic subtype but can breathe both water and air.
- Expert Climber: Zahajin gain a +4 racial bonus on Climb checks.
- Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds zahajin for 1 round; on subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
- Hatred: Zahajin receive a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against erahthi.
- Stalker: Perception and Stealth are always class skills for zahajin.
- Psychic Sensitivity: Constant exposure to aetherite awakens dormant potential in zahajin. They gain Psychic Sensitivity as a bonus feat.
Darkwild Zahajin Racial Traits
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +4 Charisma, –2 Wisdom: Zahajin are strong and nimble, and millennia of shaping by the fey have given them a potent mystique and strength of personality. However, aetherite exposure has made them dreamy and easily manipulated. This replaces the normal ability score modifiers for zahajin.
- Darkwild Wanderer: Zahajin have a climb speed of 30 ft. and a swim speed of 40 ft.
- Extreme Climber: Zahajin can cling to smooth walls and even ceilings, as though constantly under the effects of spider climb, except that this is an extraordinary effect. This increases their racial bonus on Climb checks to +16. This replaces the expert climber racial trait.
- Wild Senses: Zahajin have darkvision to a range of 60 ft. and low-light vision. This replaces the low-light vision racial trait.
- Aether Blight: Zahajin take 1 point of Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma damage for every hour they are not exposed to low (or greater) aetherite radiation. This replaces the aether thirst racial trait.
- Aetherite Radiation Immunity: Zahajin are immune to the toxic effects of aetherite exposure.
- Aether Thirst: Zahajin need exposure to aetherite radiation to sustain themselves, and going without aetherite (either exposure to low or higher aetherite radiation or to at least 1 au of aetherite) affects them like other creatures going without water, affecting them as extreme thirst after one day plus a number of hours equal to the zahajin’s Constitution score. If using zahajin in a setting where aetherite does not exist, the GM should replace this need with a different element, energy, or substance that is generally available but still must be acquired and consumed on a regular basis.
Alternate Racial Traits
The following alternate racial traits may be selected in place of one or more of the standard racial traits above. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
- Darkwild Defender: Certain zahajin instinctively draw on the aetherite radiation that permeates the Darkwild to armor themselves in protective force. These zahajin gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC when in an area of moderate or greater aetherite radiation. This ability replaces hatred.
- Leap Attack: As a standard action, a zahajin may make a single attack during a jump. It can make this attack at any point along the course of the leap—the start, the end, or while in mid-air. While jumping, a zahajin does not provoke attacks of opportunity for leaving a threatened square. This replaces expert climber and darkwild wanderer.
- Seducer: Some zahajin are imbued with the glamour of their fey lords. These zahajin add +1 to the saving throw DCs for their spells and spell-like abilities of the enchantment school. In addition, they may use charm person once per day as a spell-like ability, with a caster level equal to their character level. This ability replaces psychic sensitivity.
- Swarming: Some zahajin are accustomed to living and fighting communally with the rest of their tribe. Up to two of these zahajin can share the same square at the same time. If two zahajin that are occupying the same square attack the same foe, they are considered to be flanking that foe. This ability replaces expert climber.
- Water Sense: Some zahajin can sense vibrations in water, granting them blindsense 30 feet against creatures that are touching the same body of water. This ability replaces amphibious and expert climber.
Alien Codex © 2018, Legendary Games; Lead Designer: Jason Nelson. Authors: Anthony Adam, Kate Baker, John Bennet, Eytan Bernstein, Robert Brookes, Russ Brown, Duan Byrd, Paris Crenshaw, Jeff Dahl, Robyn Fields, Joel Flank, Matt Goodall, Robert J. Grady, Jim Groves, Steven T. Helt, Thurston Hillman, Tim Hitchcock, Nick Hite, Daniel Hunt, Mike Kimmel Marshall, Isabelle Lee, Jeff Lee, Lyz Liddell, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Tom Phillips, Jeff Provine, Alistair J. Rigg, Alex Riggs, Wendall Roy, Mike Shel, Neil Spicer, Todd Stewart, Russ Taylor, Rachel Ventura, Mike Welham, George Loki Williams, Scott Young.