Shibaten, or duck-folk, are humanoids with the physical characteristics of ducks, much like tengu have the features of crows. They mostly live peaceful lives, but have fierce tempers and can be very competitive. Their tempers fade as quickly as they flare and only rarely get them into serious trouble.
Physical Description: Duck-folk are small, about 3’6, with duck-like feathered bodies, large beaked heads, over-sized eyes, and yellow or orange bird legs with finned feet. Shibaten are surprisingly strong and make excellent wrestlers and fighters despite their small size. Their compact, water-repellent body and finned feet make them excellent swimmers. Shibaten vary considerably in appearance. Plumage is normally white, but can be black, grey, speckled brown , or even bright colors like blue, green, red, orange, and purple. The head of colored drakes is sometimes of a contrasting color. Bright colored shibaten can be a motley of different colors. Plumage color is linked to personality traits. White shibaten are considered aggressive, black shibaten sly, brown and grey ones shy, and motley ones vain. Some shibaten differ from the norm, resembling fowl other than ducks. Shibaten have no visible sexual characteristics except for variances in plumage, but follow the sexual conventions of their neighbors regarding dress and manners. Shibaten of both genders leave their lower body bare to facilitate swimming.
Shibaten in Mythology
Shibaten or shibatengu are diminutive Japanese spirits, at home on lawns and in streams, kin to kappa and tengu. As game creatures, they are humanoid ducks, related to ducks the same way tengu are related to crows.
Family: Shibaten live in small enclaves, usually close to or mixed with the dwellings of other folk. Their society is loud, intense, and seems violent to outsiders, though most of this is posturing — shibaten love to show off. Families are loose, often with temporary relationships. After a comparatively easy gestation period of about a month, hens lay clusters of eggs that need close to a year of incubation. Part of this time the adults lie on the eggs, but incubation chambers ranging from the back of a stove to elaborate alchemical contraptions are usually used. The ducklings are even more noisy than adults and considered a chore to raise; it is not unknown for egg clusters to be divided in a community or clan before they hatch. Shibaten eggs are color-coded by the gender and plumage of the duckling inside, and sometimes the drake takes responsibility for the male eggs and the hen for the female ones. Other times ducklings are raised communally or by a permanent couple, who need not be their biological parents or even shibaten. Various kind of fostering are common, and sometimes shibaten will even put their eggs in the nests of other egg-laying creatures or even monsters, considering this a feasible way to give the chick a shot at a monstrous bloodline.
Society: Shibaten tend to specialize in water-related occupations, as fisherducks, ferryducks, and laundryducks. Some create their own niches, such as seaweed farming or oyster diving. They also farm and forage in marshes and lakes and make great rice planters, forming bands of migrants to work paddies over a wide area — a very labor intensive part of rice farming where their work is much appreciated. Still others take to land-based occupations a human could do, especially in areas where land-dwellers are scarce or in cosmopolitan areas where races mingle. Some take to solo wandering and become itinerant craftsmen, mercenaries, or comedians. Yet others are unable to find contentment in any one role, and change professions regularly, trying first one thing and then another. Finally, some shibaten seek to avoid all kinds of work and schmooze off friends and neighbors and so form a class of expendable adventurers.
Relations: Shibaten are regarded as harmless troublemakers by most. While neighbors find them noisy, they are tolerated for their obvious joy-of-life, and their work in water-craft is useful. Shibaten get along decently with humans and well with grippli, kappa, tengu and half-orcs. Elves, half-elves, and halflings tend to shy away from their boisterousness, but accept them once they get to know them and realize they are not truly dangerous. Dwarfs often end up as enemies, answering to the duck-folk’s aggressiveness with serious anger that won’t blow over. Gnomes find duck-folk scary, and their styles of humor rarely mix, but when they do they can form amazing comedy duos, with the shibaten surprisingly often taking the straight-man role.
Alignment and Religion: Duck-folk are self-centered and boisterous and tend towards chaotic in their personal habits. But they are rarely anarchists — they like to have a stable society to fall back on. They can have any alignment, but act with a flair that makes them seem more chaotic than they are. Shibaten are drawn to boisterous, brave-faced gods much like themselves, patrons that see the value of a quick, short outburst. They rarely pay more than lip service to religion, and when they do they often misunderstand the creed and become oracles preaching a distinctly unusual or even heretical version of their patron’s teachings.
Adventurers: More aggressive shibaten adventure to express their exuberance, while others are forced into a life of adventure because they ran out of welcome or have been kicked out of their homes by bigger or more organized creatures. They make surprisingly good warriors despite their small size, and many are barbarians, bloodragers, cavaliers, swashbucklers, or even paladins. A good number of them display magical powers, especially as oracles, sorcerers, or bards. Despite their size, they are too impatient and noisy to make truly good rogues, but can do well as con-men. See the section on favored class bonuses for shibaten attitudes to various classes.
Names: Shibaten tend to take on the names of the culture around them, choosing names that indicate bravery, quick thinking, loudness, or hint that they are waterfowl.
Male Names: Ahiru, Akio, Arata, Atsushi, Haruo, Hiro, Hiroki, Isamu, Katsu, Ken, Kichirou, Masa, Orochi, Ryuu, Sadao, Sho, Takayuki, Takeo, Takeshi, Tatsuya, Tsuyoshi, Yasuo.
Female Names: Ahiru, Akane, Asami, Aya, Ayano, Chiharu, Etsuko, Hitomi, Kameyo, Kasumi, Kei, Kohaku, Mari, Mayumi, Nana, Natsuko, Ren, Sango, Takara, Toshiko, Yoshie.
Standard Racial Characteristics
All shibaten share the following racial characteristics.
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom. Shibaten are amazingly strong for their size, and very creative. Their energy is infectious, but they are overly focused on one thing at a time and not sensitive to their surroundings.
- Type: Shibaten are humanoids with the tengu subtype.
- Size: Shibaten are Small creatures and thus gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty on their combat maneuver checks and to Combat Maneuver Defense, a +2 size bonus on Fly checks, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
- Speed: Shibaten have a base speed of 30 ft.
- Languages: Shibaten begin play speaking Common and Tengu. Shibaten with high intelligence scores can choose from the following: Aquan, Catfolk, Draconic, Gnoll, Grippli, Halfling, Sylvan, and Vanara. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
- Paddle (Ex): Shibaten have a swim speed of 30 ft. They gain a +8 racial modifier on Swim checks and can always take 10 on Swim checks, even when in combat or under stress. A shibaten can swim on the surface without getting their gear wet and fight normally above the surface as long as they pass all Swim checks. Shibaten are not aquatic creatures, they cannot breathe water or hold their breath better than others and they suffer normal combat penalties underwater.
- Can’t Shut Up: Despite their size, shibaten are not good at being stealthy. They tend to lose their temper at just the wrong moment, and suffer a -4 penalty on Stealth checks. This counteracts their size bonus to Stealth.
- Natural Comedian: Shibaten have a +2 racial bonus to Perform (comedy) checks but suffer a -4 penalty on Perform (oratory, sing) checks.
- Quackitude: Shibaten have a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate checks, and ignore Intimidate penalties for being smaller than those they intimidate.
- Seed Finder: Shibaten have very good eyesight at close quarters and are able to quickly distinguish small details and color differences. They get Perception checks to spot nearby hidden things when they first come within 5 ft. of them, as if they spent a move action actively looking for such things. This includes concealed objects, traps, secret doors, and other hidden things that normally requires a move action to be spent on Perception. It does not include noticing creatures using Stealth or seeing through invisibility. This check should be made in secret by the GM.
- Sumo Aficionado: Shibaten spend a lot of time wrestling and gain a +2 racial bonus on CMB to grapple foes and on CMD to resist grapples
|Adult||15 years||+1d4 years||+1d6 years||+2d6 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.
|Gender||Base Height||Base Weight||Modifier||Weight Multiplier|
|Male||3’1”||45 lbs.||2d4||x2 lbs.|
|Female||3’0”||40 lbs.||2d4||x2 lbs.|
Alternate Racial Traits
The following racial traits may be selected instead of existing shibaten racial traits. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
Climber: Some shibaten have fin-less feet with strong claws. They gain a climb speed of 20 ft. and can climb using the feet only, gaining a +8 bonus on Climb checks, and can take 10 on Climb checks even in combat or stressful situations. This replaces paddle.
Diver: The shibaten has greater lung capacity and can hold their breath for 6 rounds per point of Constitution before running out of air. This lowers the shibaten’s land speed to 20 ft.
Duckspeaker: The shibaten’s voice is mesmerizing. Listeners might not remember what exactly what they heard, but they remember liking it. The shibaten gains a +2 racial bonus on Perform (oratory) checks but suffers a -4 penalty on Perform (act, sing) checks. This replaces natural comedian and is common among purple ducks.
Gambler: Some shibaten focus on gambling rather than wrestling and get a +2 racial bonus on Profession (gambler) checks and on Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, and Sleight of Hand checks related to gambling. This replaces sumo aficionado.
Jockey: No shibaten has wings, but some have brains set up for spatial navigation. Jockey shibaten gain a +2 bonus on Fly checks and on all checks made to drive a vehicle. This replaces seed finder.
Parrot: Some shibaten are amazing at mimicking sounds of both voices and things and gain a +2 racial bonus on Bluff, Disguise, and Perform checks when mimicking sounds. This is common among blue shibaten and replaces natural comedian and quackitude.
Shy Quack: Some shibaten are less noisy and aggressive, making them better at sneaking. These get no racial skill modifiers to either Intimidate or Stealth. This is common among brown and grey ducks and replaces the quackitude and can’t shut up racial traits.
Sly Quack: Some shibaten are tricky rather than rowdy, and their pushiness is channeled into trying to con others. They gain a +2 racial bonus to Bluff checks, and Bluff is always a class skill for them. This is typical among black ducks and replaces quackitude.
Stage Quack: Some shibaten are good at all kinds of performance, getting a +2 racial bonus on all Perform checks. Perform is always a class skill for them. This is common among those of motley plumage and replaces quackitude and natural comedian.
Temporary Obsession: Some shibaten have a tendency to obsessively pursue very fleeting interests. Each day, the shibaten can select a single skill. This is considered a class skill for the day and the shibaten gains 1 additional skill rank in the skill (to a maximum number of skill ranks equal to character level). This replaces sumo aficionado.
Vestigial Wings: No shibaten can fly or even glide naturally, but some still have vestigial feathered arms than give a +4 bonus on Acrobatics checks to jump and can be used to run quickly, increasing the run multiple to x5 both on land and in the water. This ability cannot be used in heavy armor and replaces seed finder.
Woodpecker: Some shibaten have unusually strong beaks. The beak becomes a primary slam attack doing 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage. If used along with weapons or unarmed attacks, this functions as a secondary natural attack. This is common among red shibaten and replaces sumo aficionado.
The following race traits can be selected by shibaten characters.
Adopted Quack (Race): You grew up with non-shibaten. Select one humanoid race or monster approved by the GM. You learn the language of this race (if any) and gain a +2 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks against this type of creature.
Color Coded (Race): To take this trait, you must be a shibaten of a color matching your alternate racial traits. If you have no alternate racial traits indicating color, you must be white. You thrive on stereotypes, and gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks. One of these skills is a class skill for you.
Duck of All Trades (Race): You are good at thinking outside the egg. Once per day you may attempt a skill check in a skill that normally requires skill ranks to attempt, even though you do not have ranks in that skill.
Pond Shirk (Race): Shirking from work in the rice paddies taught you some very useful tricks. You are good at hiding in water, only the tip of the beak exposed. You gain improved cover from opponents above the surface and still breathe normally, but you count as prone while doing this and can take no actions. You can use Stealth this way even when asleep.
Reckless Luck (Race): They say there is a power that looks out for fools—and duck-folk. Whenever you are surprised, whether by a trap or a creature, you can choose to fall prone at the start of the surprise round. This counts as an action and means you are not flat-footed because you have not yet taken an action.
Favored Class Bonuses
Shibaten appreciate grabbing fate by the tail feathers and holding on tight. They thrive in classes that requires guts and a strong arm, but there is at least one duck in each of life’s ponds.
Bloodrager: Add +1/5 to the damage of melee attacks made in a bloodrage.
Brawler: Add + 1/6 to the brawler’s size category, but only to determine what size creatures the brawler can use combat maneuvers against. Aggressive stance stacks with other similar abilities, such as the In Your Face feat.
Gunslinger: +1/2 times per day, when wielding a firearm, the gunslinger can make an Intimidate check to demoralize as a move action. The target of the Intimidate check must be within the first range increment of the firearm.
Kineticist: The unlimited power of kineticism appeals to ducks, but few are called. Gain a bonus on Intimidate checks equal to twice the number of points of burn the kineticist currently has, to a maximum bonus of +1/2.
Occultist: A shibaten with the object reading class feature can read an object when making an intimidation check to gain a + ½ bonus on Intimidate checks against the item’s former owner. This is a part of the action to make the Intimidate check. The information revealed is personal and significant to the target.
Paladin: Enemies in the paladin’s aura of courage suffer a penalty of -1/5 to saving throws against fear effects. Enemies in the paladin’s aura of resolve take the same penalty on saving throws against charm effects.
Psychic: Add 1 to the psychic’s level to qualify for and use the detect thoughts, telepathic bond, and telepathy class features. This allows the psychic to gain these abilities at an earlier level. If the psychic’s effective level for these abilities exceeds 20, add 10 ft. to the range of the telepathy ability for each effective level after 20.
Vigilante: Gain 1/4 additional social talent.
Warpriest: Add + 1/4 to sacred weapon damage.
Shibaten of Porphyra © 2016, Purple Duck Games; Author Carl Cramér.