Reptile men are desert creatures that live in the huge desert in the middle of the Northern continent. They resemble huge lizards that walk on two legs like humans, but they are not true reptiles. They are much more akin to Dragons in physiology and are capable of sustaining a wide range of temperatures. They are a decadent culture; not due to a moral slide, but for some unknown reason the greatness they had in the past has diminished. They are nomads and travel in large tribes on fairly predetermined routes that cycle over hundreds of years.
The center of the desert contains an enormous tree. It can be seen from miles away, and it would take several days to walk its circumference. The tree is surrounded by a huge volcanic mountain range which are high enough on the northern slope to receive snow and are nearly impassable because of the ruggedness. The area between the tree truck and the mountains is a lush rain forest and extends several days travel. There are amphibious frog and salamander races that mostly in and on the tree but occasionally return to the forest floor for various reasons. The desert, on the other hand, is filled with Reptile man, Human, and even less known Elven ruins. Sometimes they just appear after a particularly bad storm. No known Human has ever penetrated to the center of the desert and returned to tell about it. The desert is in part due to the Tree, which soaks up vast amounts of moisture. The Tree is a mutation due to the Meteor that is buried in the depths of the earth. The desert resembles parts of Southern Utah in the north and the Sahara in the south.
The Reptile men migrate to the mountains that surround the tree every three years. The migrations of different tribes are at different times, but generally there are two tribes inhabiting the mountains at any one time. At any time of the year there is usually one arriving and one departing. Very few races know of the trees existence and no Human, Gnoll, Orc, Dwarf, or Elf has even heard rumors of it. The Redmen may have, but they have far more pressing things to worry about. The Marcego may also have heard of the tree, but no members of that race have seen it in recent times. The Reptile men consider themselves the guardians of the tree, but rarely venture off of the mountains into the rain forest. There are old ruins and streets in the forest presumed to be remnants of the Reptile men’s former glorious civilization.
The volcanic range that surrounds the tree are active and the Reptile men who inhabit them have a knack for predicting movements and eruptions. There are a few Reptile men who make permanent homes in the mountains, or stay longer than usual to find a mate or switch tribes for various social reasons. When tribes are inhabiting the mountain they make use of the time to mine minerals, and with glass from sands brought in from different locals in the desert make extraordinary items of glass and metal. A very few skilled craftsmen find themselves taking residence here for the benefit of all of the tribes. They have the sole knowledge of skills to induce glass and metal binding and forging procedures that produce weapons with glass-like blades. Some of these break easily and are ceremonial – treat as cheap for breaking purposes. These glass lined weapons are 20% lighter than their normal counterparts and due to the sharpness get a +1 to damage. The cost of course is increased appropriately and would be astronomical for someone who wasn’t a member of the tribe. Reptile men forgers are capable of producing these weapons from normal to very fine quality. A very small number of these weapons have made their way into the hands of the desert nomads and trades from the Mage cities of the south as well as the Oriental cities of the west. The Reptile men also make other products from this steel-glass mixture: flasks, windows (in their mountain homes), and even glasses (for poor eyesight) and goggles (for protection from sandstorms and the sun). Corrective eye wear is a skill unique to Reptile men, and no other race has even guessed that their eye ware is for anything other than environmental reasons. Reptile men do trade on occasion with Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, and even Elves in the few locations that they come into contact with one another. They will trade for meats, spices, salt, and other goods in exchange for glassen flasks and other articles, but very rarely glass weapons.
The different tribes are by no means at peace with one another but there are some taboos. They do not war amongst themselves at the mountains or at certain gathering places in the desert. Violation of such a taboo will bring the wrath of all of the tribes onto the tribe that breaks it. Individuals who violate a taboo are usually exiled and marked on the top of their heads to symbolize their transgression. This dye is permanent when applied to the skin of a Reptile man and resembles a tattoo but does not require needles.
Reptile men practice two distinct forms of martial arts. One focuses on intimidation, weapon skills, and brawling techniques. It is rumored that masters of this technique can strike a blow without even touching the target. There are stories of travelers being sent to flight with shear terror from a glance or being thrown through the air even when there were no obvious shamans present. The second style focuses on self defense; boxing and judo are its skills and similar non-lethal maneuvers. These skills are not common place, but there are tribes that focus exclusively on the militant version. Few Reptile men have the skill. patience, dedication, and intelligence to become true masters of either style. Reptile men who practice the militant style are trained in the use of a special double-ended spear. They learn the staff, sword, and throwing skills with it. The spear is generally a glass-hybrid, 20% lighter than normal, and usually of fine quality. This item would be rare indeed outside the tribe and even uncommon within as they are usually only created once or perhaps twice within a lifetime for a particular individual.
Reptile men have developed unique desert fighting techniques and will rarely resort to open battle. Hiding under sand, ambushes on smaller units, night raids, sand pits, and even poisoning of water sources are all preferred to open combat on the desert. (Reptile men could use flammables and explosives if the GM so desired.) Most Reptile men do not wear much armor but breastplates and and partial suits of corselet have been seen. Due to their forging techniques, glass forged armor will be 20% lighter. The cost for a Reptile man is high, for an outsider it would be astronomical – without having to deal with the difficulty of trying to find a piece that fit properly. Helmets on the other hand are uncommon. There are claw-like weapons that attach to the hands; some have a one hex reach, but most are dagger size. They are commonly used for ceremonial fights and one-on-one duels between adversaries or representatives of rival clans seeking to adjudicate a dispute.(Treat these claws as daggers that eliminate the opportunity for closed-fist strikes and of course give appropriate penalties for close combat. They make grappling hard but not impossible. They are a DX-based skill that is easy to learn and default to Karate and Brawling at -2.)
Reptile men have strange beasts that look like a lizard ran over by a truck; they are large, flat and used to carry supplies. This animal works much like a camel. It buries itself in the sand during the hottest parts of the day and is capable of storing enough water and food for days. It is very slow and eats microbes and very small plants and lichens that grow on and under the sand – giving the appearance of eating sand. They also eat plants and will not hesitate to gobble an insect of small mammal or lizard. There hides are also used to build tents, clothing, and other goods. Reptile men are also good at preserving meets and foodstuffs. There are places in the desert where hunting and even fishing are possible. There are large worms that live in the desert (4-40 ft) and are the bane of the Reptile men. They have a bite that does impaling damage and small arms that with claws to grasp and constrict prey. There are large desert cats (like mountain lions or Puma) that roam the desert and mountains. Giant insects are common within the Tree forest, less so in the desert.
Reptile men usually have some form of shelter but do not always use them. They will sleep in sand dunes and can bury themselves with breathing tubes in the case of an emergency or ambush. They love attacking enemies during minor sand storms. They hide caches of food and clothing in the desert for future use and guard them with magical traps. It is also likely to find them searching old ruins for knowledge or using them as temporary homes and fortresses. They will raid caravans on the desert edge. As the desert has expanded so has the territory of the tribes. (Interestingly, Reptile men are not especially prolific and would likely be losing the battle of expansion if the desert itself were not doing the work. Reptile men have simply learned the secrets of the desert and are capable of survival in extremely inhospitable conditions.) Those tribes that have encountered Orcs seem to have a peculiar hatred towards them, perhaps because of the orc tendency to use Reptile men skin as armor and other leather products.
Tribes communicate in the desert leaving messages at meeting places or even using birds trained for that purpose. They have predetermined rendezvous where tribes mingle, trade, discuss events and marry/breed. There are no differentiations between male and female Reptile me. To a non-Reptile man there aren’t even outward differences. Some have said that they can actually change their gender from male to female as they grow old. At a very early age they are sexually mature, but in a group environment only a certain percentage will be able to reproduce. When the number of Reptile men changes, so does the number of fertile members of the tribe. No one is sure what determines which members are fertile at a given time. There are no mother/father relationships in the community. Offspring are raised by the entire tribe from day one. There is no need for mammalian-type care and nourishment. Do not forget that Reptile men are not true reptiles. They are very similar to Dragons in physiology, thought, and behavior. It is rumored that they keep wyvern pets in the mountains, but this has never been verified. Who knows what Dragons or other close kin live amongst the mountains, desert, and even Tree jungle that the Reptile men protect, worship, and fight with?
Reptile men are also susceptible to illnesses that Humans and other mammalian races are not. On the flip side, most Human diseases have no effect on Reptile men. Cripples and the very old that can no longer manage a nomadic life are resigned to the mountains. While most who loose the ability to travel wonder off into the rain forest or desert to end their lives with honor fighting the enemies of their race. They leave valuable weapons and heirlooms with the tribe. It is not uncommon for a Reptile man with a crushed leg or broken back to crawl off into oblivion rather then endanger the tribe. If their remains are ever found they will be brought back for burial in the mountains for “special” places of the desert. Most schooling and education are informal. However it is not uncommon to find small schools established at the mountains and rendezvous spots for a hear or two during certain times. Reptile men have a sense of art and beauty totally different than a Human’s. Many of their weapons are inlaid with particularly weird shaped gems they acquire through trade. Tattoos and jewelery are nest to nonexistent among Reptile men and the little clothing they wear often carrier social significance and are very functional – usually made from lizard hide. Reptile men have no problem eating other sentients but they are not cannibalistic and would only eat a Dragon or similar creature in the direst of circumstances.
Reptile men do have shamans that make predictions most are mages, but there are plenty of mages in a Reptile man community that are not shamans. It is rumored that some Reptile men change into giant snakes and reptiles; while some sprout wings and fly; and others breath gasses, acid, and fire. (This could be a lycanthrope clan, martial arts sect, or spell cult amongst several tribes.)
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