The Zhyll

Copyright Tim Harper (aka Samwise7) © 2009

Edited by Mario Butter for The Guild Companion

"Their war galleys are filled with drugged slaves that propel their fast ships with the ferocity of a raging storm."

The Zhyll Race & Cultural Information

Racial Characteristics:
St +0 Co +4 Ag +2 Qu +2
SD +1 Re +0 In +0 Pr +2

Endurance +30
Power Points +30

Resistance Roll Bonuses
Stamina +15
Will +10
Magic +5

Demeanor & Appearance: The Zhyll are small reptilian humanoids with two small tails. Their scales are black, purple, and dark green in color and form beautiful patterns all over their bodies. On their spines they have sharp small bony plates that are a deep red in color.

Their rib cage is on the outside of their chests and sides, and they have no scales on their stomachs or chests but rather have black thick skin. They have webbing between their toes and fingers. They have 4 fingers on their hands, and 4 toes on their feet.

Their eyes are black orbs with small white dots in the center. They can see in the darkness but many travel with torches especially during religious ceremonies for the effect.

They are very good swimmers and can spend long periods of time beneath the water before needing to surface for breathing. They prefer areas near water, but they can live in other locations if necessary. Those that do live far from water often take pilgrimages to water sources for religious reasons.

The Zhyll are a strange race as they have 3 sexes. All 3 sexes are needed to produce offspring. One of the sexes (Chol) produces soft egg-like capsules with thick membranes. Another of the sexes (Lystm) produces an orange liquid that fills most of the egg-like capsule. The last of the sexes (Nysch) produces a powdery substance that fills the remaining space in the egg-like capsule.

The egg-like capsules are guarded by a family unit of 3 adults, comprising of one of each of the sexes, but it is not uncommon for multiple family units to live in the same home to aid in the difficult trials of life. The egg-like capsules take 2 years to create 1 to 10 offspring.

The Zhyll do not believe in long lasting committed relationships, and only stay a family unit as long as it takes the children to grow to 2 years of age. Many Zhyll find new mates after their children are grown to 2 years of age, but some rare family units continue to breed for life.

Children older than 2 years of age choose one of their 3 parents to cling to and follow until they are adults.

Lifespan: Zhyll live to about 60 years old.

Culture: Zhyll can be found in any community, but they prefer to live near water. Most Zhyll take one of the 6 Zhyll Cultures: Kysmos, Schartl, Siskar, Stynd, Tyss, or Yasnem.

Special Abilities:

Dark Vision (Greater) -- Zhyll have the ability to see up to 20' in total darkness. With at least some illumination, such as a candle, lantern, or torch, they are able to see up to twice as far as the light provides.

Tough Hide (Minor) -- Zhyll gain a +20 to DB from extremely tough scaly hides and thick skin.

Swimming Lungs -- This talent allows Zhyll to hold their breath for 10 minutes plus 1 minute per Constitution bonus. Zhyll also gain a +20 bonus to Swimming maneuvers.

Height & Weight:

Zhyll Chol (1 of 3 sexes) Base Height 3'6" Base Weight 70 lbs Weight Modifier 2

Zhyll Lystm (1 of 3 sexes) Base Height 4'4" Base Weight 90 lbs Weight Modifier 3

Zhyll Nysch (1 of 3 sexes) Base Height 4'0" Base Weight 80 lbs Weight Modifier 2

Starting Age: Adulthood 20, Lifespan 60, Increment 2

Blood Talents: Zhyll can't reproduce with other races, since it takes 3 sexes to produce Zhyll offspring. There are no Blood Talents for this race because of this reason.

Six Zhyll Cultures:

Stynd Culture

The Stynd culture have allied themselves with the Tyss, and the two groups live in peace and help each other from the constant attacks from rival Zhyll cultures. The Stynd sacrifice two children from each batch of offspring to Nysdyn's glory instead of the normal one sacrifice. They are devout in their faith. The Demi-Gods receive these extra children, and because of it, many feel that they are blessed by the God Nysdyn.

Preferred Locations: Stynd, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water. They like living in places with lots of shade if possible.

Clothing & Decoration: Stynd prefer using dried seaweed woven into garments as clothing. They love the colors blue and green, and much of their apparel uses these colors.

Demeanor: The Stynd culture is known for being very true to the tenets of the faith of Nysdyn. They are very devout about their faith.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Stynd Adolescent Skill Ranks: Attunement 1, Endurance 2, Mundane Lore Religion 4, Navigation 2, Perception 3, Stalking & Hiding 2, Swimming 2, Weapon Skills** 2, Weapon Skills *** 2

Tyss Culture

The Tyss culture have allied themselves with the Stynd, and the two groups live in peace and help each other from the constant attacks from rival Zhyll cultures. The Schartl, and Yasnem cultures are at war with the Tyss, and because of this the Tyss are wary of outsiders and are more defensively minded. They have tried to use diplomacy to keep their standing with the other Zhyll cultures, but this tactic has only worked with the Stynd who are now their strongest ally.

Preferred Locations: Tyss, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water, but they have a special affinity for homes made from stone, or live in natural caves with walls covered with cave art.

Clothing & Decoration: The Tyss like using shells and bones in their clothing.

Demeanor: The Tyss culture is known for wanting to talk out differences, before engaging in violence.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Tyss Adolescent Skill Ranks: Attunement 1, Duping 2, Endurance 3, Healing 1, Herbcraft 1, Navigation 2, Perception 2, Public Speaking 2, Stalking & Hiding 2, Swimming 2, Weapon Skills** 1, Weapon Skills *** 1

Schartl Culture

This culture is very warlike, and would like to rule over all of the other Zhyll cultures. They are the only culture that uses slave labor, and their war galleys are filled with drugged slaves that propel their fast ships with the ferocity of a raging storm. The drugs kill the slaves in a matter of years, but they outperform any Zhyll during this period of drugged life. They use questionable practices, and many claim they have contacted beings from other planes to give them any edge that diabolic beings can give them. They are full of ambition and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Their masts normally have recent victims of past exploits nailed to them. Sometimes these poor souls are still alive, and their morbid wails are the songs that their enemies hear when they are near. Many Zhyll fear the Schartl.

Preferred Locations: Schartl, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water. They like living in areas that are scary or dangerous, and their architecture resembles Gothic in style.

Clothing & Decoration: Schartl like to take trophies from fallen enemies and wear them on their person. Some of these decorations can be quite morbid.

Demeanor: The Schartl culture is known for being very ambitious and warlike. They are also known to be more evil than most, willing to do things other Zhyll wouldn't do.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Schartl Adolescent Skill Ranks: Climbing 2, Jump 2, Navigation 2, Perception 2, Resistance Will 2, Sailing 2, Swimming 2, Weapon Skills** 2, Weapon Skills *** 4

Siskar Culture

The Siskar are an angry people that scrape out their existence in any way they can. They are known to employ roguish means, such as poison, to accomplish their goals. They are more morally ambiguous than most of the Zhyll in acquiring wealth.

Preferred Locations: Siskar, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water. They also love places with large pillared halls lit by large fires.

Clothing & Decoration: The Siskar culture prefers dark or red clothing.

Demeanor: The Siskar culture is known for being cautious, and striking out from the shadows. They prefer stabbing their enemies in the back rather than face them using fair tactics.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Siskar Adolescent Skill Ranks: Acrobatics 2, Endurance 1, Healing 2, Herbcraft 2, Locks & Traps 2, Perception 2, Pick Pockets 1, Stalking & Hiding 2, Swimming 2, Weapon Skills** 2, Weapon Skills *** 2

Yasnem Culture

The Yasnem are cruel to their enemies, but rule benevolently over their own people. They use a strong combination of magic and martial skills to a devastating result. Many say they are cruel to their own children, but they believe this hardens them for the fighting they will do later in life. Unlike other cultures, they allow older children and teenagers to fight in their armies, and man their ships. They learn early and young about war, and how to live on the water. They are the best sailors and navigators of the Zhyll. Warrior Mages are highly prized professions in this culture.

Preferred Locations: Yasnem, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water.

Clothing & Decoration: The Yasnem love bright colors, and very often dye their scales vivid colors. They often use the beautiful feathers of birds in an ornate fashion. They want you to know they are coming for you from far away.

Demeanor: The Yasnem Culture is known for being very reckless, and value fighters and barbarians above all other possible adventuring professions.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Yasnen Adolescent Skill Ranks: Attunement 2, Endurance 2, Navigation 3, PP Development 2, Resistance Stamina 2, Sailing 3, Swimming 2, Weapon Skills** 2, Weapon Skills *** 2

Kysmos Culture

The Kysmos culture is the strongest rival of the Yasnem. In warfare many of their barbarians swim to the ship they are attacking. They are reckless in their offense, but their attacks are brutal and fast. Their barbarians swarm ships and their frothing mouths and crazy chants make many other cultures shriek with fear. Their civilization is built around producing barbarians that are awesome to behold in their rages. Unlike other cultures, barbarians are considered the perfect weapon on the high seas. They suffer high losses in warfare, but often kill just as many, if not more, than the casualties they take. Batches of children in Kysmos are normally higher in number than in other cultures (2-16 children).

Preferred Locations: Kysmos, like all of the Zhyll, prefer places near water. They prefer places that are very dark however.

Clothing & Decoration: The Kysmos prefer dark clothing, but paint their faces and arms with waterproof white and red dye. They paint themselves in a way that makes them seem bizarre and dangerous, and of course scary.

Demeanor: The Kysmos culture is violent, and very reckless. Death in battle is the way that many of them would prefer to die.

Starting Languages: Draconic racial tongue (S6/W6), Common (S4/W3)

Kysmos Adolescent Skill Ranks: Brawling 2, Climbing 2, Endurance 4, Healing 1, Jumping 2, Navigation 2, Swimming 3, Weapon Skills** 4

** Select one melee weapon group

*** Select one missile weapon group

The Zhyll Religion & The God Nysdyn

God: Nysdyn

Divine Portfolio: Chaos, Darkness, Destruction, Fire, and Water (some say Evil as well)

Nysdyn has several forms, one of them Zhyll, but mainly his form is that of a monstrous bloated leviathan that swims in the waters of the world. It is not only the tsunamis that he can create that destroy; his breath is fire that has burned entire towns. Sometimes Nysdyn destroys innocent lives just to keep the Zhyll in line and in fear of him. He has been known to shrink his size so that he may travel up rivers and even small streams.

When a family of Zhyll has children, one of them is chosen as a sacrifice to Nysdyn. Nysdyn knows if this is not performed and will destroy whole villages in retribution. The chosen child is drowned in water. One of the 3 parents must perform the drowning, but if they will not or can't make themselves do it, a Priest of Nysdyn is a suitable replacement. One of the many monstrous Demi-Gods of Nysdyn shows up to take the sacrifice down to Nysdyn. Sometimes when several groups of children are born, Nysdyn himself will show up to accept the sacrificed children personally. Sacrificed children are devoured by Nysdyn, but some of them are changed to a Demi-God to fulfill the will of the Nysdyn.

The Tenets of the Religion of Nysdyn:

  1. Sacrifice of a single child shall be performed from each brood of children. Those that do not perform this sacrifice give all of the lives of those around them a death sentence.
  2. Water is holy. You shall not defile it.
  3. Hymns must be sung to Nysdyn when first waking, and before sleep. This may be done quietly but must be able to be heard. These hymns are sung while lying on one's back. Hymns sung while floating on one's back are said to please Nysdyn greatly.
  4. When told to perform something by Nysdyn you must obey even if it requires your death.
  5. All children at 2 years of age are required to be marked on the forehead by removing 2 scales and having the tender flesh underneath burned with a holy symbol of Nysdyn. This holy symbol resembles the following letter combination, but the letters all touch: oXo
  6. Prayers are to be said after singing hymns in the morning and night.
  7. Respect the spirits of all things by showing the spirits your honor, and glorify Nysdyn. Every animate and inanimate thing is believed to have a spirit that dwells inside of it. When killing living things or destroying something inanimate, it is always proper to thank the spirit for its life, and ask forgiveness for its death.
  8. All Zhyll should be placed in water at death for their funeral. The Demi-Gods will take them below the water for judgment.

For following these tenets, the righteous at death are believed to be reincarnated as a new Zhyll child to live once more. Those that have not lived holy lives are eaten by Nysdyn to never live again.

Zhyll Creation Myth

Bringing his great size up from the depths, Nysdyn came to the shore of a large island and burned the plants there to ashes. With those ashes he formed the first 3 Zhyll, one of each sex, and bathed the new forms in water that is holy, till they awoke as new creations. He instructed them on the tenets of worship and told them to swim to a nearby island to grow, live, and have children. And this they did, and all of the Zhyll are offspring of that first family.

The Zhyll Language (Draconic)

Draconic resembles Czech for some reason.
I also used this name generator that has words with heavy consonants to make up words.