Vestraadi are a strange race of man-like aberrations that rule over the Forever Deep of the Underworld. Their lack of any visual senses is easily compensated by their retinue of tactile, auditory and olfactory organs, but it is their bizarre appearance that makes them so reviled and hated among the few upperworlders that have seen them. They are only now traveling, though none are sure why, and the mysterious nature of the vestraadi does nothing to encourage them to find out.
The vestraadi are one of the rarest in the underworld. Scholars and historians say that when the impossible beast’s blood leaked into the subterranean rivers and streams, some of the fiercer aquatic creatures mutated into the sightless men. The eldest of their race, the few that have survived the fantastic dangers of the Forever Deep, know the truth of their origins and carry that secret until their dying breaths. Their greatest rites of passage are one of the most dangerous endeavors throughout the Underworld and only ever taken by the truly intrepid vestraadi or those disputing rights of rulership.
Far down toward the core of the world, in the darkest waters of the world, ruins that date back to the Prime Event persist despite the incredible pressures cold, and currents that dominate the depths. The most well-traveled bards and loremasters of the Underworld speak of these primal cities with reverence and fear—few but the most powerful vestraadi are able to penetrate these briny dungeons with any safety, and the countless others that have tried all fall to the truly massive sea beasts that occupy the bottom of the Forever Deep.
For those strong enough to survive the dangerous environmental hazards of the aquatic pits, there are treasures galore and objects of power that rival the greatest artifacts of Upperworld. Chief among these are the Song Spheres. The legends of the vestraadi elders, told only in song during great rites of passage, speak of the ancient orbs and their part in the history of their race, and that of the entire world. None have ever been recovered—they sing out into the deepest waters in placating melodies that keep the enormous beasts that once roamed the world freely in repose on the ocean floor.
When disturbed by a living being, a Song Sphere trills out in joy—interrupting the lullaby they normally croon—and wake the dangerous sea monsters, quickly leading to the deaths of explorers in the Forever Deep that attempted to plunder her treasures. Underworld sailors, keen to avoid the many hazards of the Forever Deep, have come to believe that the songs are the keening of the sea beasts themselves—a rumor the vestraadi have done nothing to stop from propagating, for the Song Spheres carry more than the honor of their race. Some of the sacred orbs tell the true tales of why the vestraadi abandoned their empires on the ocean beds of the world, and fell prophecies of their seers foretell that the knowledge itself will bring the danger from below to haunt those that would learn of them.
Still, these mysterious, sightless creatures have propagated throughout the waters of the Underworld since the Great Schism. They are an aloof peoples that keep tribal societies throughout the Forever Deep, each ruling over their territories with a savage zeal. The bizarre nature of the vestraadi still puzzle the few scholars of that have researched them, and their strongholds are rarely breached by any army or invasions—the few that try meet deeply unpleasant ends.
Vestraadi are approximately the same shape and size as a human, but bear extremely little resemblance past that point. Their powerful arms end in three large fingers with half a dozen digits, and all of their bodies are covered in frills and tendrils that constantly shift and writhe about. A vestraadi’s misshapen skull elongates towards the left or right (none are sure why) forming into a sort of ‘tuning fork’. In the middle of their ‘face’ is a large gaping mouth filled with wavering thread-like appendages and gnashing teeth. Openings on the sides of their heads spiral inwards and seem to create a type of ‘pupil’, often mistaken as the creature’s eyes.
The vestraadi are a tribal, secretive peoples often misunderstood by other races of the Underworld and instantly designated as monsters. Despite appearances, they are in fact extremely sophisticated, and have developed forms of tactile language and other nonverbal communication that colorfully flavor their exchanges in Straad. Still, they have not recovered the means to record their history in any fashion other than oral renditions and thus they deeply prize historians, bards and any other tellers of tales. The place of a vestraadi in their society is determined by what they can offer to the other members of the tribe, be they mages, seers, warriors, scouts or healers. Those who cannot carry their weight are left to wither in the underwater regions they call home, left to defend themselves should a predator come prowling.
For the most part, the other races of the underworld are ignorant of the vestraadi. The gitwerc know who they are and what more, they know from whence they came, and the infernal dwarves (rightfully) keep a respectable distance from the sightless men. The funglets find them to respect nature and typically when they interact it is one of the only peaceful, casual interactions the vestraadi can enjoy (though they also get along with the dødelig, as well as anyone does anyway). The hoyrall, ironically, find them to be infuriating in their bizarre ways and the ahool find sightless men to be foul of taste, albeit simple prey in a dry cave.
Male Names: Bs’burigh, Fetzgryth, Glotf ’lty, Jes’thlint, Srelakth, Thyg’dzen
Female Names: Ds’bai, Ig’zall, Meddriz, Oliev, Res’zdra, Vhyg’dzei
Vestraadi and Perception
Unlike other PC races, the vestraadi lack a key sensory organ and the reliable means to gain visual information. Rather than simply giving them a greater range of blindsight (which a GM is welcome to do at their discretion), we’ve developed a different system exclusively for vestraadi.
Vestraadi Sonar. The mysterious sightless men emit an enigmatic partially-subsonic pulse keyed to each individual vestraadi, sensed only by them (unless they decide otherwise, in which case they may make their location known to any vestraadi within 120 feet or 240 feet as a bonus action) every turn they are awake.
This inexplicable energy extends to a maximum radius of 240 feet, and provides the vestraadi with a means to discern their physical surroundings. Static structures (walls, ground, ceiling, chairs, tables, etc) are automatically detected, but any creatures or dynamic (moving) objects are more difficult to perceive.
A vestraadi can “charge” a number of objects equal to character level + Wisdom modifier to respond to its sonar to automatically identify a creature or dynamic object (within 240 feet) with blindsight (usually allies).
In combat, the vestraadi rolls a Wisdom (Perception) check to perceive each creature and dynamic object in a 30-foot radius whenever they roll initiative or enter back into the initiative order or on their turn—this very precise pulse is known as Combat Sonar. The DC for this check is equal to 3 + a creature or dynamic object’s size modifier (+4 for Tiny, +2 for Small, –2 for Large, –4 for Huge, etc.) + a creature or dynamic object’s attribute modifier used for attack and damage rolls or a creature’s Dexterity (Stealth) check, if it is actively hiding. Ammunition of ranged weapons is treated as part of the creature or ranged weapon firing the piece of ammunition. Thrown weapons are treated as part of the throwing creature or object lunging the weapon.
The vestraadi is granted blindsight against targets he succeeds these checks against until a perceived target actively attempts to hide from the vestraadi.
Hiding from a vestraadi who has perceived the target is a Dexterity (Stealth) check made at disadvantage; if successful, the target stops being perceived by the vestraadi’s blindsight. The vestraadi maintains this reliable understanding of the battlefield until he rolls a 1 on a Wisdom (Perception) check, is deprived of the ability to smell or hear, or is knocked unconscious.
During combat, a vestraadi may take an action to send out another pulse that plays out exactly as the first except that it is made at advantage against targets it can perceive with blindsight. This pulse is known as Discerning Pulse and provides more information, depending on the vestraadi’s level. Targets the vestraadi can see with its blindsight that are successfully beaten on this Wisdom (Perception) check more keenly perceived, depending on the vestraadi’s level. A vestraadi may continue to make Wisdom (Perception) checks in this manner so long as they have available actions to do so.
The vestraadi is completely unaware of the location of dynamic objects or creatures around it if it fails to perceive them with these checks. A vestraadi is considered to be at disadvantage against any creatures or dynamic objects it fails to detect (even in the middle of combat) and such creatures’ or object’s attack rolls have advantage against the vestraadi.
At 2nd level and every level thereafter, the range of a vestraadi’s combat sonar increases by 5 feet, to a maximum of 125 feet at 20th level.
Focused Sonar. Starting at 3rd level, The vestraadi may also focus the pulse of the combat sonar on a single creature or object, willfully blinding itself against all other dynamic objects and creatures; for the duration, it is even blind to “charged” creatures or dynamic objects. Attacks made against the target of the vestraadi’s sole attention are made at advantage. A vestraadi may decide to end this focused sonar whenever it emits a new combat sonar pulse.
At 3rd level, objects and creatures perceived by a vestraadi’s Discerning Pulse are treated as though they were subject to the detect magic spell while the vestraadi was concentrating on it.
At 5th level, objects and creatures perceived by a vestraadi’s Discerning Pulse are treated as though they were subject to the detect evil and good spell while the vestraadi was concentrating on it.
At 11th level, objects and creatures perceived by a vestraadi’s Discerning Pulse are treated as though they were subject to the detect thoughts spell while the vestraadi was concentrating on it.
At 20th level, the vestraadi immediately perceives creatures and objects detected with its sonar as though it emitted a Discerning Pulse also perceives them via truesight.
Can I have that in quick-and-dirty, please?
As a simple (but much less interesting) alternative to the sonar, you can just give the Vestraadi the following:
Vestraadi Blindsight. You have blindsight 30 ft. At 2nd level and every level thereafter, the range of your blindsight increases by 5 feet, to a maximum of 125 feet at 20th level.
Your vestraadi character counts as an humanoid (vestraadi) for purposes of race.
- Ability Score Increases. Your Wisdom and Dexterity scores increase by 2.
- Age. Vestraadi mature slightly faster than dwarves, reaching adulthood at approximately 42 years. If they do not fall prey to the harsh underworld, they can reach almost 400 years of age.
- Alignment. Most Vestraadi are Neutral, following the strange teachings of the mysterious Current.
- Size. Vestraadi stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and average about 170 pounds. Your size is Medium.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. You have a swim speed of 30 ft.
- Amphibious. You can breathe air and water.
- Blind Senses. You can’t use your Vestraadi Sonar (or Vestraadi Blindsight) while deafened and unable to smell.
- Condition Immunity. Since vestraadi are already blind, you can’t be blinded. Additionally, you are immune to sight-based effects, illusions, and gaze attacks and similar abilities that rely on sight.
- Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on non-sonar-based Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
- Poison Detector. Some of your mutated, highly specialized sensors are adept at detecting toxic substances. You are constantly under the effect of detect poison and disease (poison only).
- Vulnerability to Poison. A significant portion of your body is a sensitive sensory organ—unfortunately, this makes you vulnerable to poison damage.
- Sensory Dependent. While you are immune to all sight-based effects, this does make you more susceptible to auditory illusions and effects. You suffer disadvantage on all saves against auditory-based illusions and spells and effects that deal thunder damage.
- Languages. You can speak Common and Straad, a language of strange brushing noises caused by the frills all over your body.
Underworld Races and Classes © 2017 AAW Games LLC; Designers: Thilo Graf and Mike Myler