Garaou

Average Height: 5’5”-6’8”
Average Weight: 150-200 lbs

Ability Scores: +2 Dex, +2 Str or Cha
Size: Medium
Speed: 7 squares
Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common, Garaou
Skill Bonuses: +5 Intimidate, +2 Nature
Nowhere to Hide: Thanks to a Garaou’s heightened sense of smell, even while in human form, they can detect creatures with cover or otherwise invisible. Garaou are considered to have blindsense within two squares + their Wis modifier from them.
Reminder of the Moon: All Garaou have vulnerability 5 to silver or silver-laced weaponry.
Auspice Power: All Garaou gain the Auspice Power that corresponds to their Auspice. Usable in lahou form only.
The Culling: Gain Cull the Flock power described below.
Form of the Lahou: Gain the ability to transform into the lahou form described below.
Form of the Lupul: Gain the ability to transform into the lupul form described below.
Lunacy: Gain Lunacy power described below.

Cull the Flock
Target: Self
Free Action
Daily
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, all the Garaou’s melee attacks crit on 18-20.

Lahou Form
Target: Self
Minor Action
At-Will
The Garaou transforms into their terrifying predator aspect, gaining a 50% height increase and 200% weight increase (yes, a 6-foot man would transform to a 9-foot lahou!). They become Large size. A large canine head replaces their own, their feet elongate to in a manner similar to a dog’s, and their hands sprout rending claws. Thick fur covers them from head to foot. While in lahou form, the Garaou cannot speak more than a few words at a time (such as “Enemy over there” or “Die now”) thanks to their shifted vocal cords and larynx. Shifting out of lahou form is a minor action. While in lahou form, the Garaou gain +2 to base speed, +1 to AC, Ref, and Fort, and +3 power bonus to melee damage. They also gain the ability to leap half their base move speed (rounded UP). They may leap down from a height less than or equal to their speed and take no penalty or damage (pending the type of terrain they land upon).

All Garaou in lahou form gain the following attacks regardless of auspice:

Bite
Str/Dex/Con+4 vs AC; 1d8+Str/Dex/Con dmg. Crit: Ongoing 3 phyiscal dmg.

Claw (may be used in place of melee basic attack)
Str/Dex/Con+4 vs AC; 2d6 +Str/Dex/Con dmg.

Upon character creation, choose Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution as the primary stat for the attacks (they must be the same for both Bite and Claw). This cannot be changed later.

Garaou venturing into the world at large must use caution when transforming into the lahou. In most of the human population of Oros Milav, the sight of their one natural predator triggers some deeply-buried instinct. Garaou call it ‘the Lunacy’. Humans viewing a lahou must make a Will save or panic, freeze, or simply faint depending upon the severity of the failure.

(It should be noted, however, that adventurers are a hardier lot than most and may be able to resist the innate panic upon seeing a lahou. Nothing earns a Garaou’s respect for a human faster than resisting the Lunacy; it means they either have nerves of steel or a brain of Jell-o. The former make good hunting mates, the latter make good meals.)

Lunacy
All humans who can see a Garaou in lahou form must resist the Lunacy or are overcome by fear (DM’s discretion to effect).
Target: Every Human who can see the lahou
Garaou’s Intimate vs target’s Will
Hit: Target is overcome by the Lunacy.
Miss: Target resists the Lunacy. The target then becomes immune to the Lunacy of that particular Garaou for the next 24 hours. Alternatively, the Garaou may consciously choose not to affect a human with the Lunacy, but may designate a chosen target only if they have resisted the Lunacy on their own previously.

Lupul Form
Target: Self
Minor Action
At-Will
The Garaou transforms into a form indistinguishable from a normal wolf. Other Garaou may be able to discern a lupul from a regular wolf. While in lupul form they receive +5 to their base speed, but cannot speak.

**Note about transformations: though at-wills, the Garaou must be in human form to shift into either lahou or lupul form. They cannot shift straight from lupul to lahou or vice-versa.

Physical Qualities
All Garaou have three distinct forms: human, lahou, and lupul. The lupul form is indistinguishable from a normal wolf, save to other Garaou. In human form, Garaou blend in with human populations, though many seem to have a kind of bristling energy just beneath their skin, like a bomb about to go off. In keeping with the human traits of Oros Milav, most Garaou in human form have either blonde or black hair and fair skin.

Upon transformation into the lahou, any clothing or armor the Garaou is wearing becomes subsumed beneath the shapeshift. They might, however, snap straps on backpacks or grow too big for the shield they carried (though most Garaou shirk shields anyway). They retain the ability to wield any melee weapons they could while in human form, or they may forsake such conventional methods for the good old fashioned “jump on the enemy and gnaw on their face” tactic. Female lahou do not have breasts. Hair color translates to coat color in lahou or lupul form, though a blonde Garaou may have a pelt of dark sand rather than bright blonde. White pelts are the stuff of legends and such ‘ghost wolves’ are treated with an equal combination of fear and respect.

All Garaou are born either from a human woman or a female wolf. They live among their surrogate family until the First Change when something drives the individual into the lahou form for the first time. This happens usually in mid to late teens for human Garaou, and two years into maturation for wolf Garaou. The First Change is, without question, bloody and violent. Someone always dies, the young Garaou ‘wakes up’ with blood on their hands or in their mouth, wondering what happened. The ‘werewolf’ gene is latent and often unpredictable; a Garaou and their mate might produce no Garaou offspring, but two generations later a child Changes and is taken by the local pack. Though many of the tribes do not agree with one another, a newly-Changed Garaou is a hot potato that any local Garaou will help until they find the pack to which they belong. This has become more prevalent in recent times and has done much to help wounded tribal relations.

Garaou Society
“Feh, humans. They only know half the story. They bask in their daylight and frolic in the sun, but know nothing of the Goddess’ true form. She watches the world with two eyes, one gold and one silver. Know them both well, pup, for you alone walk both roads.”

Garaou believe the Goddess created them to shepherd the flock of humans and guard the wild places of the world. The earliest known records of Garaou society are crude pictographs representing a wolf figure running with and howling at the moon. Garaou perform their duty with dogged determination, feeling no remorse or mercy for the weak, sick, and mad that they cull from the human herd. They might walk among them for a time, very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they might speak the language and they might even participate in human society, but they are never at home there. ‘Garaou’ literally translates as ‘walkers of two worlds’ in their native tongue.

Like their common wolf ‘lesser cousins’, the Garaou are pack-oriented first and foremost. Every Garaou has a place within the tribe, though they often use the term ‘tribe’ and ‘pack’ interchangeably. Loyalty to packmates and personal honor are the driving forces behind most Garaou. Caution and cunning are key to survival, but when the pack fights as one, nothing can stand in their way.

As far as the pack itself goes, might unquestionably makes right. “The weak revere the strong. The strong respect the weak”. Though this is perhaps the easiest of the Garaou creedos to break, most tribes at least attempt to maintain the order the ideal suggests. The pack leader must be strong in order to provide discipline and lay down the law for their packmates; if they cannot, the whole pack suffers and a new leader is usually found with speed. Usually the old alpha will step down when a challenger arises that they know they cannot best. Bloody confrontations, however, are not entirely uncommon.

Garaou society is steeped in and based upon violence perhaps more than any other culture in Oros Milav. Their entire purpose is to hunt and kill, a charge gifted to them by the Goddess herself. She also granted them an additional charge: to guard Her chosen children who danced in the clouds closest to her realm. Long ago before the Fall, select Garaou were appointed guardians to the Lilithiul, residing in their flying cities, patrolling Sanctuary, and accompanying them on their excursions to the earth.

When Lilithiul society collapsed in the Fall, Garaou found themselves separated from their charges. Unable to find them when the Lilithiul sealed themselves away, the Garaou underwent a racial period of mourning. Certain tribes went completely mad, unable to come to terms with their ‘failure’. Others sequestered themselves away, blaming anything but themselves for the loss of their exalted companions. The care of the human herd began to slip while the tribes warred with each other and within their own packs, allowing them to spread almost unchecked.

The tribes that survived the fallout of the Lilithiul’s disappearance discovered, far too late, that some of the packs had turned to the Tasuh in their grieving madness. These benyem became twisted, bodies and spirits warping until they remained gross mockeries of the Goddess’ lunar handiwork. Instead of maintaining the balance between humans and the wild, they now sought only the corruption of all of Her work. The remaining Pure tribes may agree on very little, but they do agree that the benyem – the traitors – deserve an agonizing death at the claws of the Pure.

Though Garaou sometimes carry silver weapons themselves when hunting their corrupt benyem brethren, to draw silver upon a packmate or member or another tribe is to announce a duel to the death.

“Garaou shall not mate with Garaou. It is an abomination”. Garaou can and must interbreed with humans and wolves to keep their race alive. The offspring of two Garaou is often hideously misfigured or wracked with some unrelenting madness, and such offspring are almost always shunned from the pack. The parents, at the very least, are greatly dishonored.

Garaou are known for their pride. Rarely, if ever, will the reclusive tribes listen to a human. The Kurothe have been sharing their wilds since the dawn of time, but the Kurothe are even harder to reach than the Garaou. Sometimes a pack will listen to the requests of a rival tribe. A Lilithiul requesting audience, however, is usually granted (unless the tribe in question is one that feels abandoned and bears a grudge).

Playing a Garaou

Garaou are simmering pots of barely-contained rage, never free of the lunar fury that drives them to hunt and to kill. Modern times have seen tribe turn on tribe rather than cull the human herd, which may explain why humans have, in the past two thousand years, been able to expand their influence and build substantial cities. Nothing makes a Garaou see red faster than a traitor and they view the ultimate traitors as the benyem – tribes that have willfully given themselves to the Tasuh, his machinations, and those who do his work, such as the Death’s Head Cult. Garaou often eat the flesh of their kills but will never eat the flesh of a benyem, fearing that the corruption might spread if they do. If you declare someone a packmate, even if they are not Garaou, you will defend them to the death. If you have taken a mate, you are fiercely protective (and possessive) of them. You are more wolf than human, more human than wolf, and a child of the Goddess’ lunar aspect. You are Garaou.

Auspices

Auspices determine much about a Garaou. Less important is the Auspice under which one was born, but when the First Change occurred. There are five Auspices, each associated with a phase of the moon.

Manblakkyr, the New Moon
The New Moon, the Shut Eye, the Dark Moon, is the Auspice of the tribe’s scouts, pathfinders, infiltrators, and those who must feel lost in order to belong. The New Moon is when the Goddess’ eye has closed, and those under the Manblakkyr find the path when there is no light to see. They will always leave, but they will always return. They are often misunderstood even by their own pack, but few can deny their usefulness.

Garaou of the Manblakkyr Auspice gain the following power:

Howl of Darkened Roads
Enemies find their vision obscured as this howl permeates their senses, clouding them as if shrouded in a moonless night.
Encounter
Standard Action
Psychic, Sonic
Close blast 3
Target: All enemies in blast
Primary Stat +2 vs Will
Effect: Enemies in the blast grant combat advantage, and the first ally to attack an affected enemy gains an additional +2 to dmg if they hit. When an affected enemy is successfully hit and damaged, the Howl’s effects wear off.

Malond, the Waxing Moon
The Waxing Moon, the Silver Crescent, the Dream-Scythe, is the Auspice of the tribe’s bards, storytellers, lorekeepers, and historians. They rouse the pack to the howl of war and celebration, inspire courage in their allies, and remind their fellows of the lessons of history. Malonds tend to feel positive passions more thoroughly than their fellows but are capable of rage to rival even an Arhunn when pressed.

Garaou of the Malond Auspice gain the following power:

Howl of Raging Joy
Encounter
Standard Action
Psychic, Sonic
Close blast 3
Target: All enemies or allies in blast
Primary Stat + 2 vs Will
Effect: Enemies in the blast suffer -2 to attack rolls, save ends, or allies in the blast gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls until the end of the encounter.
Special: If a Malond wishes to use the benefit to allies, they may make the Howl of Raging Joy while in human form.

Halftung, the Half Moon
The Half Moon, the Knife’s Edge, the Even Table, is the Auspice of the pack’s judges and lawkeepers. The Halftung have considerable pull with both Pack Alpha and the rest of the tribe, for they hold and interpret the Goddess’ law. They tend to be the most reserved and self-controlled of Garaou.

Garaou of the Halftung Auspice gain the following power:

Howl of Bloody Justice
Encounter
Standard Action
Psychic, Sonic
Close blast 3
Target: All enemies in blast
Primary Stat + 2 vs Will
Effect: Affected enemies take damage equal to the damage they deal the next time they successfully damage one of your allies.

Anditala, the Waning Moon
The Waning Moon, the Draining Cup, The Smokey Mirror, is the Auspice of the tribe’s healers, spirit-talkers, and spiritual leaders. Though Garaou revere the Goddess, they are perfectly aware of the myriad natural spirits permeating the wild places and will council (and betimes use) them when they feel the situation calls for it.

Garaou of the Anditala Auspice gain the following power:

Howl from Beyond
With an unearthly howl, the spirits of worlds unseen obey the Garaou’s call to aid his allies.
Encounter
Standard Action
Close blast 4
Target: All allies in blast
Effect: Allies in burst gain temporary hit points equal to 1d6+Wis modifier. They may also make a saving throw with a bonus equal to your Wis modifier.

Arhunn, the Full Moon
The Full Moon, the Baleful Eye, the Hunt Light, is the Auspice of the tribe’s warriors. Though all Garaou are lethal opponents, Arhunn occupy a true niche of pure, unrestrained savagery. Most Arhunn operate at a low simmer at most calm, and are known for their uniquely violent tempers and dangerous, seemingly unpredictable mood swings. In Arhunn the Garaou hubris is often at its most prevalent, for to a Garaou, might makes right and Arhunn are among the most powerful combatants known. When the howl of war chills the night air and the tribes crest the peaks to do carnage, it is the Arhunn frothing at the mouth to lead the charge and water the fields with the blood of their enemies.

Garaou of the Arhunn auspice gain the following power:

Howl of Terror
Encounter
Standard Action
Psychic, Sonic
Close blast 3
Target: All enemies in blast
Primary Stat + 2 vs Will
Effect: 1d6 dmg and enemies in the blast are dazed, save ends.
Miss: Enemies are dazed for 1 round.

Garaou Relations with Other Races

Humans: Garaou regard humans similar to the manner in which humans regard sheep; business, and dinner. Garaou often eat their kills, but there is a ritualistic aspect to it; they don’t view battlefields as fast-food. The fact that humans have spread so far and developed their culture to the level they have is a sore point on Garaou pride. Yet when exposed to human dignitaries, the Garaou found that the soft critters conducted themselves with a level of honor they were hard-pressed not to respect. Though it took some time to warm up to the idea that the sheep were now talking, the return of the Lilithiul have prodded the Garaou into taking humans a bit more seriously than they had in the past. Some see the Winged Ones’ affiliation for humans as a sign of changing times. Others might feel pangs of jealousy, feeling that humans are usurping their rightful place at the side of the Goddess’ Chosen. Still, a Garaou that has ventured from their pack into the world at large may just be of the mentality to befriend humans.

Lilithiul: Once, the Garaou revered the Lilithiul as both divine charges and closest friends. When some of the Lilithiul’s own betrayed them and sent them into isolation, the Garaou as a race became lost. Some Garaou blame the state of their race upon the Lilithiul and wish nothing more than retribution for their negligence; others view the return of the Winged Ones as a sign from the Goddess that redemption is at hand. Still others watch the Lilithiul and wait, waiting to read the signs of fate from their actions. A direct request from a Lilithiul is often entertained, though no Garaou will tolerate self-fulfilling hubris from a little silver-haired upstart. Whether or not the return of the Lilithiul will salvage the Garaou as a people is something only time will tell.

Kurothe: When the Garaou were separated from the Lilithiul, the Kurothe took pity on them. To this day Garaou maintain close ties with the race of immense half-giants, seeing the Kurothe as blood-brothers in both honor and duty. The Kurothe’s easy humor and unrelenting patience has also saved many a life, both Garaou and non. The fact that the Kurothe treat all races with the same initial wary patience, only to win many allies, has been an inspiration for many Garaou spiritual leaders. Though Garaou hubris will only budge so far, many Malond and Anditala seek to emulate, understand, and spread the Stone People’s wisdom among their tribes. For Garaou, the Kurothe alone are worthy of unquestioning respect for their steadfast loyalty and unswerving dedication to their cause of stewardship of the earth.

Gnomes: Gnomes. Tiny, hidden, annoying tricksters that rival the most obnoxious Manblakkyr and still remain so damn hard to swat! Truthfully the Garaou know little of gnomes, only that they seem to follow humans everywhere and somehow manage to get into everything that’s not theirs. Some view gnomes as ancient land-spirits made flesh; others view them as potential hor’dourves. Too bad every time they seem to bite them, gnomes end up anywhere else but between their teeth. Gnomes are new, and so far have proved more innately irritating than a tick in the skin.

Dwarves: Introduced to the dwaves by their mutual allies, the Kurothe, Garaou find dwarven cities of cold stone in the heart of mountains fueled by perpetual forges innately claustrophobic. Though an enraged (and often drunken) dwarf can bring a rage to bear that the Garaou can honestly respect, they prefer their dark woods and open fields beneath the moon to learning the finer points of brewing and metalwork. Garaou appreciate the dwarves, respect them, but mostly leave them to their business. In recent times, however, with dwarves opening their cities to trade from human lands, many Garaou have commissioned dwarven silversmiths of the finest caliber – a potentially gruesome overture of times to come.

Garaou

Oros Milav Takinator