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Zarraak

In a scorched wasteland, most survivors curse that great inferno that hangs over their heads, wishing nothing more than to feel something – anything – other than its unrelenting heat. Not even unborn young are safe from its rays, which can cause horrific growths and tumors. Its fiery touch withers plants and causes pools of water to vanish in a matter of hours.

In such worlds, there are few indeed who praise the sun as a savior and uplifter. Those who do are either mad, or zarraak.

The zarraak are a cold-blooded, reptilian folk. Although they are about the size and shape of an average human, the similarities end here – hard. Zaraak stand with a slightly stooped posture, broad shoulders jutting up towards the source of the sunlight that reflects dully off their thick, scaly hide. Their heads and faces, though obviously equally reptilian, are hard to pin down – the short, beaked snout seems like a cross between a lizard and a turtle, while their eyes resemble that of a crocodile (as do their jagged teeth, which sit on the outside of their mouth). Below their knees, their heels jut back and upwards like those of some long-dead behemoth, forcing a zarraak to walk on its taloned toes. This bestial image is topped off by their long, broad tails, which trail behind them as a counter-balance, close-to-but-not-quite-ever touching the ground.

Some say that the zarraak are the descendants of a more primitive people, and the transformation of the world into a heat-blasted hellscape has allowed these cold-blooded predators to thrive as both a species and a culture. Others guess that, like the half-giants, they were created in the energies of the last cataclysm that destroyed civilization. Whatever their origin, the zarraak are a reminder that not every species has been hindered by the end of the world – and that some are taking to it like the mythical duck would take to those long-forgotten bodies of water.

Zarraak society appears loosely organized, but actually contains a very strict small-scale hierarchy. Most zarraak live in small social groups numbering fewer than twenty individuals, but every zarraak knows where they stand with every other one of their kind that they have met: either above or below them. A meeting between two zarraak inevitably leads to the two parties “sizing each other up”. The factors used to determine which zarraak is superior seem to display no particular coherency – a skilled artisan­ shaman may be as likely to establish dominance as a powerful warrior or a lethal hunter – but they seem to make sense to the zarraak, for these hierarchies, once established, rarely see any kind of alteration.

Even after years apart, two zarraak will remember upon sight which of the two is the dominant creature. Only a significant change – a dominant artisan losing their hands, or a submissive zarraak gaining magical powers – will lead to a reevaluation of this relationship.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2.
  • Alignment. Zarraak live within a self-created hierarchy based on obscure and seemingly instinctual rules. While zarraak have a reputation for savagery among other races, this is, as often as not, a result of the offending party misreading zarraak body language and warning symbols. Zarraak thus tend towards neutral or lawful alignments.
  • Size. Zarraak are of a similar height to humans, but hunched and more compact. Your size is medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Zarraak, which is an offshoot of Draconic.
  • Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Cold-blooded. You have advantage on saving throws to resist the effects of extremely hot environments, but have disadvantage on saving throws to resist the effects of extremely cold environments.
  • Air Taster. You gain proficiency in the Perception skill, and can detect the presence of creatures by their scent as well as sight and sound.
  • Bite. Your powerful jaws and jagged fangs make your bite a fearsome natural weapon, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with it, you deal piercing damage equal to ld4 + your Strength modifier.
  • Natural Armor. Your thick hide is covered with hard scales. When you aren’t wearing armor, your armor class is 13 + your Dexterity modifier. A shield’s benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.

Subrace

The different kinds of zarraak reflect natural ability and cultural role as much as they do inherent physical differences. Chose one of these subraces: Prey-Taker, Spirit-Talker, or Sun-Blooded.

Prey-Taker

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
  • Hunter’s Speed. Your movement speed increases to 35 feet.
  • Snapping Jaws. You can use a bonus action to make a bite attack against a creature you are grappling.

Spirit-talker

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
  • Creator’s Hands. You gain proficiency with two types of artisan’s tools.
  • Omens. You have a special d6 called an omens die, which represents the portents and omens that you read in the world around you. Once, when a creature you can see makes a d20 roll, you can roll your omens die and increase or decrease the d20 roll by an amount equal to the result of your omens die roll. You can roll this die after you see the d20 roll, but before the results of the roll are determined. You regain the use of this feature when you finish a short rest.

Sun-blooded

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
  • Skyspark. You know one evocation cantrip from the sorcerer spell list. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
  • Sun’s Flesh. When you would take lighting or fire damage, you can use your reaction to gain resistance to damage of that type, including the triggering damage. This resistance lasts until the end of your next turn. You must complete a short rest before you can use this feature again.
Section 15: Copyright Notice
Deadworlds: A Post-Apocalyptic Expansion for the World's Greatest Roleplaying Game Copyright 2017 PondStrider Games. Author George Sutherland Howard