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Swarmborn (12 RP)

The swarmborn are humanoids turned into living swarms of creatures that collectively retain the consciousness of their original self. Having once possessed human cognizance, they still act as one creature, with some particular exceptions.
Swarmborn are not truly swarms in the same way that a swarm of spiders might attack a party of adventurers. Instead, they are individual components of one creature that still has discernible (assumable) anatomy. Swarmborn without special training (through feats, magic items, or class features, for example) can still be critically hit, subjected to poisons, and anything else that would normally affect an individual creature. Unless otherwise noted, swarmborn do not have the swarm subtype, its benefits, or its limits and weaknesses.

Physical Description

The swarmborn’s appearance can be jarring, but pareidolia allows most creatures to quickly discern a face with which to interact. Many assume the swarmborn is an average adventurer with an unfortunate spell cast upon them and never broach the subject. Swarmborn who are particularly unhappy with their appearance wear masks or use illusion to hide what they really are, though this will often make creatures less inclined to help as they see such attempts as untrustworthy.

Society: Swarmborn have no devoted society of their own, but instead go about their lives as they did before they where changed.

Relations: When swarmborn talk, they create an understandable voice that sounds vaguely of swarming bees or squealing rats. This can be disconcerting at first, but given time, most get used to it. Given the chance to prove their worth, swarmborn can quickly earn the respect of others.
Animals are not disturbed by swarmborn any more than other creatures. If anything animal instincts may draw them to swarmborn in search of food.

Alignment and Religion: Swarmborn usually retain the alignment and religious beliefs they had before. Occasionally, a swarmborn will change alignment or religion because he feels betrayed by his god or that prior actions are what put him in this situation.

Adventurers: Swarmborn continue to adventure as they likely did before, although their reason for doing so might have changed.

Male Names: Aduzu, Durutiru, Eshubam, Ishtiru

Female Names: Arshatua, Erirashi, Irahara, Nushi

Random Starting Ages
Swarborn are fully grown when created, with memories of their existing classes and training intact.

1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, trainers, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards.

Random Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Male 4 ft. 10 in. +2d4 in. 35 lbs. +(2d4×1 lbs.)
Female 4 ft. 5 in. +2d4 in. 30 lbs. +(2d4×1 lbs.)

Standard Racial Traits

Swarmborn usually have the following racial traits.

  • Ability Score Racial Traits:  (Advanced) Swarmborn are exceptionally perceptive and physically adaptable, but quickly forget what it’s like to be an individual.. They gain +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +4 Wisdom, -2 Charisma.
  • Type: Swarmborn count as both aberrations and humanoids for any effect related to race.
  • Size: Swarmborn are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Base Speed: Swarmborn have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Equipment-Bound: When the swarmborn awaken for the first time, they take a shape suitable to the equipment they wore in life, treating that gear as their body. At minimum, a swarmborn requires a peasant’s outfit in which to fully form. Equipment that must be bound for the swarmborn to use include armor, clothing, jewelry, and weapons. Bags and other accessories can be worn or carried as normal. To replace or discard bound equipment, the swarmborn require at least 8 hours of uninterrupted concentration to learn how to reform around the new gear and use it effectively. The swarmborn can replace or discard any amount of equipment in this way, but all such equipment must be present within the same 5-foot space at the end of the 8 hours. When dispersed for any reason (see above, the swarmborn cannot reform until all of their gear-bound equipment exists within the same 5-foot space or they spend at least 8 hours replacing it.
  • Languages: Swarmborn begin play speaking Common. Swarmborn with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).

Feats and Skills Racial Traits

Magical Racial Traits

  • Swarm Skin (Sp): Beginning at 2nd level, swarmborn can use a standard action once per day to expel their consciousness into the swarms of creatures that comprise their physical forms. This ability functions as the swarm skin spell, except the swarmborn treat their bound equipment as their bones and they can only become one swarm at a time. The caster level for this ability equals the swarmborn’s class level.

Senses Racial Traits

  • Darkvision: Swarmborn can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Weakness Racial Traits

  • Dispersion: As swarmborn grow weary, they become increasingly agitated and find it more difficult to hold themselves together. When struck by a successful critical hit or dealt damage by a spell or effect that damages creatures in an area, the swarmborn must attempt a Fortitude Saving throw (DC equal to the damage dealt) or immediately disperse into the individual creatures that make up their consciousness. The swarmborn’s equipment falls to the ground where they stood while dispersed. Reforming from dispersion is a full-round action that draws attacks of opportunity. When reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, swarmborn immediately disperse into the individual creatures that make up their consciousness. While in this state, the swarmborn cannot be healed unless a summon swarm or similar spell is cast first. The swarmborn still attempt to stabilize as normal, and failure to do so means the swarms dissipate entirely and the swarmborn dies. Returning dead swarmborn to life requires all of the equipment bound to them at the time of their death. True resurrection only requires a single piece of the swarmborn’s original bound equipment and sufficient equipment to which they can bind themselves again.
  • Weakness: Swarmborn take half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.

Alternate Racial Traits

Swarmborn can select the following racial traits.

  • Flight: The swarmborn gains a fly speed of 30 feet with average maneuverability, but its swarm skin ability is limited to becoming a wasp swarm (gained at 6th level). In addition, a moderate wind (11+ mph) triggers dispersion; a strong wind (21+ mph) triggers dispersion and, on a failed save, prevents reforming for 1d4 rounds.
  • Frightful Gaze (Su): Some swarmborn can’t control their forms as well. They gain frightful gaze instead of swarm skin. Creatures within 30 feet of the swarmborn that meet its gaze must succeed at a Will saving throw (DC 10 + the 1/2 the swarmborn’s character level + its Charisma modifier) or stand paralyzed in fear for 1 round. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. A target that successfully saves cannot be affected by the same swarmborn’s frightful gaze for 24 hours.

Favored Class Options

The following options are available to all swarmborn characters who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward. In addition, an swarmborn can pick any elf or halfling favored class bonus.

  • Any Class: Add a +2 bonus on rolls to stabilize when dying.
    Accelerist: Add +10 minutes to the duration of the accelerist’s alchemical tincture accelerant option.
    Alchemist: Add +10 minutes to the duration of mutagen.
    Battle Augur: Gain +1/4 use of swarm skin. This ability counts as one of the battle augur’s echoes of battle.
    Magus: Add a +1/2 bonus on concentration checks made to cast defensively.
    Necromancer: Add +1/6 Con damage when making a swarm attack with swarm skin. Fortitude (DC 10 + half the necromancer’s level + her Constitution modifier) negates.
    Rogue: The rogue can choose to deal +1/6 Con damage when using sneak attack (DC 10 + half the rogue’s level + her Constitution modifier) negates. This counts as a rogue talent when used.

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to an swarmborn character who meets the prerequisites.

Humane Mutagen (Alchemist Mutagen Option)

When a swarmborn alchemist brews a mutagen, she can choose to brew a mutagen that removes her dispersion racial trait for the duration, but she only gains a +2 alchemical bonus to her selected ability score. All other aspects of the mutagen remain unchanged.

If the alchemist has the greater mutagen discovery, she can brew a mutagen that removes both her dispersion and weakness racial traits. The mutagen only grants a +2 alchemical bonus to 2 physical ability scores, however.

If the alchemist has the grand mutagen discovery, she can brew a mutagen that removes both of the above racial traits, but it only grants a +4 alchemical bonus to one physical ability score, and a +2 to each of the others.

Phrenic Shape (Wild Shape Option)

Swarmborn will sometimes seek the aid of druidic circles in an attempt to master their form. They practice with swarm druids and shifters to learn how to control their ever-shifting bodies, eventually progressing to a point where they are not so heavily reliant on their bound equipment.

While using the wild shape class feature, a swarmborn’s effective level is 3 less than another character with the feature (minimum 1st) when determining the forms and duration of that effect, but she loses her weakness and dispersion racial features while in a wild shape form. The swarmborn can still use swarm skin while wild shaped, and can return to her current wild shape form when she reshapes.

When her effective level with wild shape is at least 6th, the swarmborn can reform herself from dispersion as a standard action, as long as she has greater than 0 hit points.

When her effective level with wild shape is at least 8th, the swarmborn can have her equipment change with her when dispersed, and she no longer draws attacks of opportunity from reforming. At effective level 10th, she can do this when using her swarm skin racial trait as well.

Swarmborn Companion (Animal Companion Option)

Swarmborn will sometimes keep a companion who helps them to remain calm during battle. A swarmborn can train her companion to calm as a trick. When the swarmborn saves versus dispersion, if her companion is within 10 feet of her, it can move to her side as a free action, without drawing attacks of opportunity, and grant her a bonus to the save equal to the total bonus tricks it can learn as a companion. She also adds this trick to the guarding general purpose in place of down.

Swarm Strike (Accelerist Speed Strike Option)

A swarmborn accelerist must be particularly careful not to disperse herself by accident when moving at high speeds. As she masters her abilities, she learns to treat her swarm attack when using swarm skin as a flurry for the purpose of speed strike, but loses fast movement for the duration.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Book of Many Things, © 2018,Samurai Sheepdog; author Kevin Glusing.