Artathi

The artathi race is composed of seven different castes:

three upper castes—

Il’artathi (resembling lions),

Tal’artathi (tigers),

Ahl’artathi (pumas);

and four lower castes—

Htak’artathi (lynx),

Sal’artathi (cheetah),

Dal’artathi (leopard),

Vyk’artathi (jaguar).

Although members of one caste are capable of mating with those from another, the offspring from such a union are mongrels. Those unlucky enough to be tainted as such from birth are considered to be letathen, casteless ones, and are considered the lowest members of artathi society.
 

Personality: Artathi tend to be one of two types, and this often has as much to do with the caste in which they were raised than anything else. Il’artathi, Tal’artathi, Htak’artathi, and Vyk’artathi tend to be impulsive and quick to anger. Ahl’artathi, Sal’artathi, and Dal’artathi, on the other hand, are quick of wit, sly, and subtle in their dealings with others. Mongrels are almost always subservient to those of the upper castes, but their frustrations will frequently manifest in a more violent temperament when dealing with anyone to whom they do not have to show deference—outsiders to Artathi society.
 

Physical Description: Artathi are essentially humanoid cats. They range from five to six feet
in height (Vyk’artathi) all the way up to seven and a half to eight feet tall (Il’artathi), with a similar variance in weight. The members of the seven castes each resemble one species of big cat; the appearance of mongrels can vary widely but generally seems to favor a generic feature of little note (a tendency which increases with each generation of separation from “pure” stock).
 

Relations: Artathi generally have little patience for humans, considering their relatively chaotic societies, unfocused nature, and unstructured lives to be signs of weakness. However, there are some human cultures—typically those with sophisticated and wellordered societies—the artathi respect. The artathi almost universally view halflings and gnomes with disdain: Their cultures lack honor and their lifestyles suggest that of the letathen. Half-elves and similar races are,  likewise, looked upon with distasteas a result of their “mongrel” heritage. The
artistic graces and fine taste of the elves generally
earn them respect, but their more chaotic
aspects seem a weakness to the artathi.
The artathi view of dwarves is more complicated:
The castes with a more martial bent will
generally appreciate their skills and endurance,
while those castes with more delicate sensibilities
tend to scorn their roughness.
Alignment: Artathi are typically lawful by
nature, a result of their highly structured societies.
Those who tend toward adventuring,
however, often fall outside of this mold (particularly
if they are mongrels). They are, after all,
those who did not fit into the traditional strictures
of their society.
Artathi Lands: The
artathi race is one of
divisions. The artathi
of the jungle are different
from those of the
savanna; those of the
upper castes are different
from those of the
lower castes; those of
the city-states are different
from those of
the tribes. Mirroring
these divisions of life
are the conflicts that
make up the artathi
themselves: Cultural
refinement justifies
barbaric custom; social
grace guides a warrior’s
instincts; honor
mixes with deception.
Within artathi society,
each of these subtle
elements is lent an
overwhelming importance,
dictating a pattern
of behavior and
custom that is
supremely elegant in
its opaque complexity.
The artathi civilization
seems, at first glance,
to be centered on the
isolated city-states that
serve as the most basic
elements of political
power. Whether found on the savanna or within
the jungle, these widely dispersed centers of
population serve as the nexus points that guide
the migrations of the nomadic tribes that represent
the other half of the artathi population. In
reality, however, the city-states are as dependent
on the network of trade created by the
tribes as the tribes are on the concentrated
resources of the city-states.
The artathi also live within a strict caste society,
largely defined by the possession of power
as an expression of a caste’s proximity to Ba en
Aset. The three upper castes are known as the
Durek (literally “first children” in the artathi
language), while the four lower castes are
known as the Surek (“second children”). The
mongrels, or casteless, are known as the
Letathen (literally the “forgotten ones”). Each of the three Durek castes possesses exactly
nine households. The four castes of the Surek,
on the other hand, have a varying number of
households, ranging from the 12 of the
Dal’artathi to the Hundred Houses of the
Vyk’artathi.
In general, the Durek are more influential on
the savanna, while the Surek are more influential
in the jungle. However, there is no distinct
or formal separation, and the Durek are still
considered “closer to Ba en Aset” (and thus
more powerful on an individual basis, at least
in theory) throughout artathi society. The true
division of power between the Durek and
Surek lies in the selection of emperor and
empress. The former is the “Divine Light of Ba
en Aset” and “Father of the Seven Castes,”
holding supreme power over all living artathi.
He is selected by the Durek from among their
own ranks.
Similarly, the Surek select the empress. Her
approval is required for any marriage to take
place. For the lower members of a caste, this is
frequently nothing more than a formality. For
the upper (or royal) members of a caste, however,
this approval is an absolute necessity.
Because the emperor holds the ultimate political
authority among the artathi, the empress’
importance is frequently overlooked. However,
her ability to control alliances and lines of succession
within and between the households of
the Durek and Surek is of supreme importance
in shaping the political reality within which the
emperor must function.
The emperor and empress, selected from different
castes, are capable of producing only
letathen offspring, preventing any attempts to
form an imperial dynasty.
Religion: The artathi worship a single goddess,
Ba en Aset. Her church represents a branch of
power within artathi society that is related to
but separate from that of the imperial and caste
systems. Power within her church is divided
into nine hierarchies, each representing one of
the goddess’ nine lives.
It is said that those who turn from the Church
of Ba en Aset lose her favor, but the continued
success of clerics and paladins who have fled
from artathi society seem to belie such teachings.
Perhaps even more damning of the
Church’s claim of orthodoxy are those of the
letathen who are gifted with divine favor. Such
individuals are frequently forced to flee their
homes, although many do so only with a vow
to return and sweep the corruption and prejudice
from their homelands.
Language: The artathi express their native
tongue interchangeably through both their own
writing and that of the Elven script. Each of the
seven castes is noted for its excellence at various
sorts of literature. The Ahl’artathi, for
example, are known for their works of epic
poetry. The Il’artathi are known best for their
works on military strategy and conquest. The
letathen are frequently illiterate, and those who
can read rarely know more than the few pidgin
phrases they need to go about their daily business.
Names: Artathi of the Seven Castes have
names that are practically works of art. Each is
composed of three parts. The Name of Birth (or
el’nalak) is the shortest part and is given to the
newborn artathi by the empress. These names
are descriptive in the artathi language but are
also selected from the Sethe’nalak (the
Imperial Roll of Names). To have one’s name
added to the Sethe’nalak is considered one of
the greatest honors of the artathi and can only
be achieved by earning the extreme gratitude of
the emperor and empress. Such a name would
have been selected from among the Names of
Honor (or sul’nalak), which precedes the Name
of Birth. The number and variety of the Names
of Honor depend entirely upon the artathi who
possesses them, as they are earned throughout
his life by demonstrated greatness in the eyes
of the caste leaders. Finally, there are the
Names of Caste (or artath’nalak). These follow
the Name of Birth and are also attached at
birth. The Names of Caste, however, are drawn
through a complex ritual from the ancestors
and caste-mates of the newborn, identifying his
heritage to all who hear the full name.
Letathen are given only a Name of Birth, and
such a name cannot appear on the Sethe’nalak.
Adventurers: Letathen, of all the artathi, are
the most likely to become adventurers, fleeing
a society that has oppressed them. Though it is
rare for members of the Seven Castes to leave
artathi society, those who are exiled or choose
to leave are also frequently called down the
path of adventure. Artathi Racial Traits
Mongrel/Letathen
• +2 Dexterity, –2 Constitution.
• Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures,
artathi have no special bonuses or penalties
due to their size.
• Artathi base speed is 30 feet.
• Low-light Vision: Artathi can see twice as far
as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight,
and similar conditions of poor illumination.
They retain the ability to distinguish color
and detail under these conditions.
• +2 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently
checks. In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth,
the Hide bonus increases to +6.
• +6 racial bonus on Balance checks.
• +2 dodge bonus. This bonus represents the
artathi’s uncanny natural instincts for danger.
Any time a character loses his positive
Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, such as
when he’s caught flat-footed, he loses his
dodge bonus, too.
• If an artathi attacks unarmed with his claws
extended, his unarmed strikes cause 1d6
points of damage. Unlike normal unarmed
strike damage, this damage is not subdual
damage. An artathi’s Strength modifier is
applied to this damage as usual. If an artathi
attacks unarmed without his claws extended
he causes 1d3 points of subdual damage.
• Automatic Languages: Common and Artathi.
Bonus Languages: Elven, Draconic, Giant,
Goblin, and Sylvan.
• Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclass mongrel
artathi’s barbarian class does not count
when determining whether he suffers an XP
penalty for multiclassing. In artathi society,
mongrels are not given the disciplined training
of fighters, but many still follow violent
callings and the barbarian’s rage comes naturally
to them.
Artathi Castes
Il’artathi (Lion): Six of the last seven emperors
have been of the Il’artathi, a result of the
caste’s tremendous political strength.
Physically the largest of the artathi castes, the
sons and daughters of the Il’artathi have spent
centuries training as powerful, elite warriors
and inimitable political foes. The families of
the Il’artathi place great importance on the
artathi concepts of honor, leading to individuals
who are either truly noble or simply loud
and self-righteous. Il’artathi have the standard
artathi racial traits, with the following exceptions:
• +2 Strength, –2 Dexterity.
• Favored Class: Paladin.
Tal’artathi (Tiger): While the Il’artathi rule
within the secular world, the Tal’artathi control
the realm of spiritual power within artathi society.
Members of the Tal’artathi fill the highest
ranks of the Church of Ba en Aset. Of the three
upper castes, they are the most conservative in
their outlook, preferring to prepare for longterm
gain rather than short-term benefits—an
attitude they typically carry into their personal
lives, as well. Tal’artathi have the standard
artathi racial traits, with the following exceptions:
• Favored Class: Cleric.
Ahl’artathi (Puma): To the casual observer, it
is clear that—among the Durek—it is the
Il’artathi and Tal’artathi who rule, mutually
controlling the state and the church. To those
with a greater awareness, however, the power
and influence of the Ahl’artathi becomes clear.
The families of the Ahl’artathi are subtle and
clever, choosing to wield their power from
behind a number of pawns and servants within
the other castes. Their political cunning is only
heightened by the mystical achievements of
their schools of magic. Their influence among
the Durek is great, but their influence among
the Surek is greater yet. Ahl’artathi have the
standard artathi racial traits, with the following
exceptions:
• +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma, –2 Constitution.
• Favored Class: Sorcerer.
Htak’artathi (Lynx): Possibly the strongest
caste of the Durek politically speaking, the
families of the Htak’artathi are most prominent in the jungle, dominating every layer of society
there. They are also gifted trackers, and
many of their sons and daughters have served
with distinction on the frontiers. Htak’artathi
have the standard artathi racial traits, with the
following exceptions:
• Favored Class: Ranger.
Sal’artathi (Cheetah): The smallest caste of
the Surek (and, in many ways, the one most
similar to the castes of the Durek), the
Sal’artathi are a proud people, in no small
part because the other castes, while respecting
their unique gifts, tend to look down
upon them at the same time. The Sal’artathi
families possess a secret knowledge and philosophy.
Sal’artathi have the standard artathi
racial traits, with the following exceptions:
• +4 Dexterity, –2 Constitution, –2 Strength.
• Sal’artathi base speed is 40 feet.
• Favored Class: Monk.
Dal’artathi (Leopard): Of all the Seven
Castes, the Dal’artathi are the least specialized.
Members of this caste can be found
throughout the lower rungs of artathi society.
Dal’artathi also tend to have the greatest tolerance
(and, in some cases, even respect) for the
letathen. Dal’artathi have the standard artathi
racial traits, with the following exceptions:
• Favored Class: Rogue.
Vyk’artathi (Jaguar): The largest of the
Seven Castes, the Vyk’artathi are the foot soldiers
of the artathi’s imperial conquests. All of
the major Vyk’artathi families have long histories
in the military and take great pride in their
accomplishments. Elder sons of these families
(those most likely to pursue military careers)
tend to emulate the members of the Surek in
their pursuit of excellence. Vyk’artathi have the
standard artathi racial traits, with the following
exceptions:
• +2 Strength, –2 Intelligence, –2 Charisma.
• Favored Class: Fighter.
Snow Leopards: It is said that a race much like
the artathi live in the cold lands of the northern
wastes. Known as the syltath, these “snow
leopards” seem well adapted to their winter
climes. Compared to the artathi, they are a simple
people, living in small tribes by a brutish
code of honor. If they are truly related to their
southern cousins, it is unclear how—or when—
this strange migration happened. Syltath have
the standard artathi racial traits, with the following
exceptions:
• +2 Strength, –2 Dexterity.

Artathi

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