View Full Version : Pathfinder Coatl [Playable Feathered Snake Dragons w/ ghost powers!][Crossroads]

Admiral Squish
2014-09-22, 03:34 PM
Created for Crossroads: The New World (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?345327-Crossroads-II-I-m-on-a-Mammoth)


The feathered serpents known as ihhuitlcoatl and mimicquecoatl, or more simply, coatl, are a unique breed of new world dragon. Appearing as enormous horned snakes covered in feathers instead of scales, the coatl are unique not only for their inhuman appearance, but for their deep connection to the spirits and the dead. While they lack hands, they are not without alternatives, and can even project a spectral humanoid torso from their mouths to wield armors and weapons on their behalf.
Personality: Coatl are a proud race, descended from dragons, and believing themselves to be worth all the same respect their larger cousins warrant. Those humans who fail to deliver the appropriate respect often find them to be dangerous enemies, and those that do find them valuable, powerful allies. They can be somewhat harsh when pursuing a goal, becoming increasingly obsessive the longer the aim of their mission eludes them.
Physical Description: Coatl are huge, snakelike creatures, covered nose to tail in feathers of different colors. Coatl range in size from 8 feet to 12 feet in length as adults, with females being about 10% larger than males, and notably stronger. Coatl range in diameter at their thickest point from about as thick as a human neck to almost a foot across. Coatl possess relatively small, blunt horns above and behind the eyes, males have two pairs while females have one. They also have a number of long, flexible feathers on their chins, a small beard of feathers, which serve them like whiskers. There are several varieties of coatl, the exact appearance depending on their subspecies.
Emerald Emerald coatl are the smallest variety of coatl, between 8 and 10 feet long. Their plumage ranges through various brilliant shades of green, and is mostly composed of long, stiff feathers. They can angle these feathers, laying them down smooth, or flaring them out to catch the air, augmenting their inherent magic to allow them to glide. They use this ability and their natural skill for climbing to slither up and down trees and float between them in the dense jungles of their homeland.
Ruby Ruby coatl are larger, between 9 and 11 feet long. Their feathers are mostly green and short, apart from the feathery mane around the base of their head. Ruby coatl get their name from the bare, crimson scales that make run all the way down their body along the underbelly, and the streaks of red behind their eyes and the ones that appear when they flare their manes in an intimidating fan.
Sapphire Sapphire coatl are the largest variety of coatl, between 10 and 12 feet long. Their plumage is usually short, but for a few ridges of longer feathers on their tail and sides, and ranges in color from a bluish-green to a deep midnight blue. Sapphire coatl use these ridges like fins to help them steer and propel themselves through the clear, still waters of the cenotes they call home.
Relations: Most coatl rarely interact with humans, living out in their wild communities among their kin. Those that do interact with humans typically do so in one of a few ways. Some coatl hunt humans when food is scarce and they trespass too deeply into their hunting grounds. Others enter human societies as priests and mediums, trading on their natural connection to the spirits and their resemblance to the god-dragon quetzalcoatl to rise to positions of authority and power. Others merely seek alliance with specific humans, looking to use their skills and talents to accomplish some mission to difficult for they themselves to take on alone. Coatl very rarely trade with humans, lacking material goods to offer and really needing nothing the humans have to offer. The different coatl varieties respect their shared heritage, and their different niches mean they rarely if ever come into direct competition for resources.
Alignment: Coatl range widely in alignment, but they are only very rarely neutral, heavily favoring more extreme alignments.

Coatl Lands: Coatl don’t claim lands like many human nations, they live in mostly wild environments, and roam too widely to hold lands. The different varieties of coatl live in very different areas.
Emerald Emerald coatl live in dense forests and jungles found all through the mesovespuccia area. They spend almost all their time high in the canopy, preying on birds, giant insects, and monkeys, not to mention the occasional nest of eggs. They hunt during the day, sleeping through the nights in communal nests among the branches of the canopy. These communities move periodically as food becomes more scarce in a given area.
Ruby Ruby coatl live in small bands on the plains and in some forests, a single female and a number of males who compete for the opportunity to mate. They claim large areas of land for their band as territory. They hunt alone, at ground level, and favor large prey, such as deer, canines, and some larger rodents. They are known to go after smaller prey in lean times, and will even chase down humans when food becomes particularly scarce.
Sapphire Sapphire coatl dwell in the aquatic tunnels that inter-connect the cenotes found all through mayatolli. This winding network of dark caves hosts large villages of coatl, dwelling in underwater structures carved out of the limestone walls, and nourished by a combination of aquaculture and the occasional large animal that falls, or is thrown, into the open cenotes. Sapphire coatl have a highly complex and secretive social order.
Religion: Coatl are often strongly religious. They hold the god-dragon Quetzalcoatl in the highest respect, as bringer of the dawn, source of the winds, ancestor of all coatl, and bearer of knowledge. Some priests even believe the glorious serpent to be alive, hidden away somewhere in the distant west. Wind jewels, conch shells carefully cut into cross-section, are worn by many coatl, and can be found in many settlements.
Language: Coatl speak their own languages, each variety having their own unique tongue, influenced by the languages of the nearby humans. These coatl languages are all part of the Coatli language family, the draconic tongue spoken by mesovespuccian dragons. Most have difficulty speaking human languages, due to the dramatically different mouth shapes, and may lisp or hiss some words before they truly master the language. It is unwise to laugh at this.
Names: Coatl are named in different ways depending on their variety, but there are a few common threads. Hatchlings are named with a suffix indicating the order in which they hatched. The first-hatched and last-hatched suffixes have a variety of superstitious beliefs associated with them.
Adventurers: Coatl adventurers are not particularly uncommon, usually becoming Priests in the service of Quetzalcoatl, Hunters who adapt their natural hunting techniques to combat, or Warlocks, tapping the arcane power in their draconic blood.

Coatl Traits (30 RP + ?s for Serpent Body and Phantom Body)
+2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +4 Charisma, -2 Wisdom Coatl are strong, quick, and durable, with extremely powerful personalities, but they can be slightly unhinged.
Dragon Coatl are dragons.
Medium Coatl are medium creatures, and have no bonuses or penalties due to size.
Slow Coatl have a base speed of 20 feet.
Low-Light Vision Coatl can see twice as far as normal in conditions of low light
Darkvision Coatl can see in the dark out to 60 feet.
Immune Coatl are immune to magic sleep effects and paralysis effects.
Skills Coatl gain a +4 racial bonus to escape artist checks.
Natural Weapons Coatl possess a primary bite attack that deals 1d6 points of damage. They can also use their tail to attack creatures their tail threatens with a primary tail slap attack that deals 1d8 points of damage.
Life and Death Coatl are inherently tied to the forces of life and death. they gain a +1 racial bonus to caster level when casting spells of the necromancy school. They gain resistance 5 against negative energy damage. They do not lose hit points when they gain a negative level, and they gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against death effects, energy drain, negative energy, and spells or spell-like abilities of the necromancy school.

Serpent Body Coatl have extremely unusual bodies that make them behave differently than most playable characters. Coatl are medium creatures, but their long,serpentine bodies fill more space than a usual medium creature. A coatl is treated as occupying one five foot square, which is followed by a second square containing their tail. The tail normally occupies the square the coatl last exited. The tail is a part of the coatl; any effects targeting the tail affect the coatl as well, and any effects targeting the coatl apply to the tail as well. The tail has the same armor class as the coatl, but cover and concealment are determined separately. The tail’s movements provoke attacks of opportunity as normal movement by the coatl, but if the coatl makes a successful acrobatics check to move through threatened squares, the movements of the tail do not provoke attacks of opportunity either. The coatl can use a move action to rearrange their tail, placing it in any adjacent square, or coiling it up in their square. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The coatl’s tail threatens adjacent squares, but it can only use the coatl’s tail slap to attack. The coatl can use its tail to make drag, grapple, reposition, and trip combat maneuvers.

In addition, the unusual body shape of the coatl places some unusual restrictions on equipment. They cannot wear gloves, boots, or bracers. They can wear rings, but they wear them on their fangs. However, they can wear and benefit from two magic amulets or necklaces and two magical belts at a time. Having no hands, they cannot normally manipulate objects or wield weapons, other than their natural weapons. Armor made for a coatl costs twice as much as normal.

Finally, the slender body of the coatl allows it to fit and squeeze through narrow spaces as though it were two sizes smaller, tiny in most situations.

Phantom Body Coatl are limited in their capacity to create and manipulate things by their lack of limbs. However, their powerful connection to the spirit world grants them a unique method of circumventing this issue. As a move action usable at will, a coatl can open their mouth and partially disgorge a faintly-glowing semi-transparent humanoid form, a phantom body. This phantom body can be partially disgorged, exposing only the head or even just the face, or fully disgorged, the entire head and shoulders emerging from the coatl’s mouth. The phantom body is quite solid, and is completely under the coatl’s mental control. The phantom body lasts until dismissed with a free action, when it disappears. A phantom body cannot be targeted or damaged, being a projection of spectral energy. This is a supernatural effect.

The phantom body can wield weapons, bear shields, and manipulate objects as an extension of the coatl. However, lacking physical muscles, it uses the coatl’s charisma score or modifier in place of its strength score or modifier for any action involving its limbs. This includes any weapon attack and damage rolls, strength-based skill checks involving hands or limbs, strength checks, and any combat maneuver checks made with hands or weapons (Dirty Trick, Disarm, Drag, Grapple, Reposition, Steal, Sunder, Trip).

While the phantom body is active, the coatl cannot speak or make bite attacks. It can, however, make the phantom body speak any language it knows.

Subspecies There are several varieties of coatl to be found throughout the aztatlan region. the details of each are described below:
Emerald Emerald coatl are adapted to a life in the canopy of the dense forests and jungles.
Climb Emerald Coatl possess a climb speed of 20 feet, which grants a +8 racial bonus to Climb checks.
Glide Emerald goatl can float slowly thanks to their draconic blood, and steer themselves with their feathers. They take no damage from falling, as if constantly under a supernatural feather fall effect. While in midair, they can move up to 5 feet in any horizontal direction for every 1 foot they fall, at a speed of 60 feet per round. They cannot gain height by gliding; they merely coast horizontally as they fall. If subjected to a strong upward wind or any other effect that causes them to rise, they can take advantage of the updraft to increase the distance they can glide.

Ruby Ruby coatl are adapted to a life of hunting on open plains and forest floors.
Quick Ruby coatl have a base speed of 30 feet. When using the charge, run, or withdraw actions, they gain a +10 foot bonus to speed.
Venomous A ruby coatl’s bite attack exposes the target to blackblood venom.
Blackblood Venom; Save Fort (DC 10 +˝ the coatl’s hit die + their constitution modifier); Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; Effect 1d4 negative energy damage + 1 constitution damage; cure 1 save.

Sapphire Sapphire coatl are adapted to life in the drowned caverns of cenotes.
Swim Sapphire coatl possess a swim speed of 40 feet, which grants a +8 racial bonus to swim checks.
Water Breathing Sapphire coatl can breathe air and water freely.


Phantom Breath
You can turn your phantom body into a cloud of deadly spectral energy.
Prerequisites: Coatl, 5 HD
Benefit: You can make a phantom breath attack as a standard action, filling a 30-foot cone with a cloud of black spectral smoke, faint human and coatl faces visible in the rolling smog. Creatures in the area take 1d6 points of negative energy damage per point of charisma modifier you possess, and gain 1 negative level. A successful fortitude save (DC= 10 + ˝ your hit die + your charisma modifier) reduces the damage by ˝ and negates the negative level. You cannot use this ability while using your phantom body ability, and after using it, you cannot use the phantom body ability or this ability for one minute.

Phantom Cloak
You can turn the energy of your phantom body toward your own protection.
Prerequisites: Coatl

You can spend a move action, as though using your phantom body ability, to cover yourself in a cloak of swirling spirit energy. While this cloak is active, you are protected by spirit energy that absorbs blows. This cloak has a pool of hit points equal to (your charisma modifier x your hit die) that replenishes each day. When you would take damage while this cloak is active, the cloak takes the damage instead. When the cloak reaches 0 hit points, you are stunned for one round and cannot use your cloak again for 24 hours. While this cloak is active, you cannot use your phantom body ability, and cannot speak or make bite attacks.


You can spend a move action, as though using your phantom body ability, to cover yourself in a cloak of swirling spirit energy. While this cloak is active, you gain a deflection bonus to armor class and a resistance bonus to all saves equal to your charisma modifier. While this cloak is active, you cannot use your phantom body ability, and cannot speak or make bite attacks.

Sculpt Phantom
You can shape the energy of your phantom body to give it the appearance of a specific soul.
Prerequisites: Coatl
Benefit: You can make a disguise check to shape your phantom body to appear and sound like a specific human soul. This appearance is purely cosmetic, and it is still entirely under the control of the coatl. The coatl may make bluff checks to convince a viewer the being depicted is present.

Summon Phantom
You can actually call a specific spirit through your body to interact with the mortal world.
Prerequisites: Coatl, 5 HD
Benefit: You can call a specific spirit to emerge from your mouth in place of your phantom body. This is a ritual that takes one minute, at the end of which, the spirit emerges from their mouth. The spirit to be summoned must be present on the spirit world, it cannot have passed Beyond. The coatl must indicate a specific spirit with HD equal or less than the coatl's, and they must be willing to appear. The spirit then emerges from the coatl's mouth as with the phantom body ability. The spirit can speak normally and perceive things as though they were present. This spirit is not a physical being, merely a visible and audible projection, and cannot interact with physical objects or creatures. The spirit cannot cast spells or use any special abilities while projected like this. The spirit can make any Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma based skill or ability checks as normal (with the exception of Craft, Disguise, Heal, Profession, Survival, or Use Magic Device).

Admiral Squish
2014-09-22, 03:38 PM
[space reserved for cultures]

Well, here we are, a new take on the quetzal (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?269502-Quetzal-race-playable-naga-Vespuccia) race of ancient times. I kinda wrote the whole thing in a day and a half, so there may be some problems. Please comment and let me know if you spot anything hinky. Oh, and of course, feel free to let me know what you think of the idea. Do you like the ghost from the mouth thing? Is that too odd? How did I do on the tail mechanic? Should the feats have like, a subtype or something that explains how they interact with the phantom body ability?

2014-09-22, 04:11 PM
First impression: I like it. It works a lot better than the original. Cannot stack phantom limbs on top of each other. I like the phantom body, since it fits well with what I recall of the meso-american stories.

As for the cloak ability, I am more partial to the pool of hit points, since there is a resource management component that you have to be smart about, while the second one, is a permanent armor boost while the effect lasts. Granted, it is one more thing to keep track of, so it might not be viewed as favourably as a straight bonus.

Admiral Squish
2014-09-22, 05:11 PM
Thanks! I'm definitely glad you like it.
The idea for the phantom emerging from the coatl's mouth comes from some myths I found relating to the Vision Serpent. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Serpent) Apparently the idea of figures emerging from the mouths of snakes, that snake's bodies were gateways between the mortal and spirit worlds, is pretty entrenched in there. Has something to do with the shedding of their skins being sort of like death and resurrection.

I like the hit point pool idea, too, but I suppose I just wonder if it's too much. It is a pretty big chunk of hit points. On the other hand, it's rather inconvenient to use, too, so it probably wouldn't be put to use in non-emergency situations. But then, if it's too awkward to use, it'll never get used and it's just a waste of a feat... see my dilemma?

2014-09-22, 05:19 PM
It depends on the situation. I have had to decide weather to run across a shallow pool of acid that was very wide (guaranteed damage, with a good estimate of how much damage I will take), versus taking a pathway where a mis-step will auto-kill. It depends on if you think you can make the Reflex save every time. A hit-point pool would be more useful here. Maybe moderate the number of hit-points?

Admiral Squish
2014-09-22, 07:31 PM
True, true... I suppose they both have their perks. Honestly, it's probably pretty much six of one, half-a-dozen of another once you get down to it.
I don't want to limit the HP gain too much, it's got to be a bigger HP than toughness to compensate for the activation and that it's not active all the time.

2014-09-24, 07:27 PM
Wow. This is a seriously awesome race. I'd say this is a vast improvement over the old version, which suffered from some balance issues. The new ones feel much more... solid, I guess. Fully considered. More like they're truly a part of the game world, rather than an accessory to it. As always, very well done!

Now for the questions:

What do ihhuitlcoatl and mimicquecoatl mean?

Seems odd that sapphire Coatls would have feathers if they're aquatic.

"conch shells carefully cut into cross-section, are worn by many coatl"
How are they worn, as a necklace or something? Wouldn't they just slide right off?

Do all New World dragons speak Draconic? Or are there dialects for different regions?

"It is unwise to laugh at this."
Nice. This made me lol In the middle of the break-room.

They might be even more than 30 RP, actually. Does your total include "Life and Death"?

Ability bonuses and penalties make sense, fluff-wise. I really like how you handled the tail mechanics, and the "Life and Death" special quality.

As much as I like the Emerald coatls, I just realized that gliding comes dangerously close to player-available flight. Particularly if combined with a spell that allows them control over winds, or even a simple /air walk/.

Can Summon Phantom allow the spirit to interact with the world again? Or is it purely visual? Could the spirit potentially escape its "host", if sufficiently motivated?

Personally, I think phantom cloak works better as a shield with HP. It's no different than gaining temporary HP, if you think about it.

2014-09-24, 10:15 PM
How are they worn, as a necklace or something? Wouldn't they just slide right off?

Personally, I was thinking they would be worn on a collar of some sort.

As much as I like the Emerald coatls, I just realized that gliding comes dangerously close to player-available flight. Particularly if combined with a spell that allows them control over winds, or even a simple /air walk/.

Gliding can be defined as a slowing vertical descent, with no vertical gain possible. If Control Winds gives the ability to create updrafts, then this is no more broken then making a hang-glider, which is possible in this setting if we allow any mundane craftmen, especially among the people of the Canyon lands. Air Walk shouldn't be anymore beneficial to the Emerald Coatls than anyone else, since anyone can move through the air with them, unless you were thinking in terms delaying vertical descent?

Admiral Squish
2014-09-25, 04:23 PM
Questions shall be answered!

Ihhuitlcoatl means 'feathered serpent', and mimicquecoatl means 'Serpent of the dead'. It might mean 'dead people snake'. Grammar is difficult in foreign languages.

Ancestor of all coatls was a feathered snake-dragon. The sapphire coatls have shortened their feathers over generations, and it's entirely possible they would lose them in the future, but they haven't quite lost them yet. Their feathers are probably quite changed at this point, similar to duck or penguin feathers, more than bird ones.

The feathers would provide more of a sticking place for a necklace than a normal snake, and snakes do have a narrower part of the body behind the head. A collar-like mechanism of tightening and locking a necklace would probably be necessary.

All new world dragons do not share a language. That seems a little too convenient. However, I do think there would be certain similarities, possibly a single root language ages and ages ago. I am doodling on a feathered dragon culture, of which the coatl types would be subcultures. I'm calling the feathered dragon culture 'Kukulkani', based off one of the the Mayan words for Quetzalcoatl, one of the earlier terms.

Thanks, I thought it was funny.

The RP total includes everything but phantom body and serpent body.

Thanks! It was originally +2 dex, +2 cha, -2 str, but when I ran the total RP values, I figured I might as well take it up a step or two.

It is a little risky, I will admit... I could fiddle with it.
If I remove the line about updrafts adding altitude, that would make it harder to abuse. The lift is supposed to be supernatural, the feathers just help propel them through the air, so they wouldn't be able to catch all that much air.
I could remove the gliding altogether, and just say the lift creates feather fall, and either grants a bonus to acrobatics checks or doubles jumping distances/heights.

It does allow them to interact with the mortal world again, It mentions that in the text. And no, there is no way for them to escape the coatl. Perhaps it should just be a visual/audio effect, though, perhaps allowing them to interact with the world gives the coatl too much variability. They could just call on spellcasters and have them work magic from any spell list, or warriors to do their fighting for them... the options go on.

This feat is certainly troublesome...

2014-09-25, 09:27 PM
You could limit the amount of power that the Phantom could work through the Coatl. Spell casters have a drastically reduced spell list, warriors do not hit as accurately. Blame it on trying to do their thing while half hanging out of a serpent's mouth.

Admiral Squish
2014-09-27, 04:58 PM
You could limit the amount of power that the Phantom could work through the Coatl. Spell casters have a drastically reduced spell list, warriors do not hit as accurately. Blame it on trying to do their thing while half hanging out of a serpent's mouth.

That seems like it would end up being very, very complicated, very quickly. I think I'll just make it a visual effect.

2014-09-27, 06:17 PM
Fair enough. Perhaps they cannot have a physical effect on the world through spell-casting and such, but what about Knowledge and Perception Checks?

Admiral Squish
2014-09-27, 07:38 PM
Fair enough. Perhaps they cannot have a physical effect on the world through spell-casting and such, but what about Knowledge and Perception Checks?

I updated the text a bit with a first draft of it. I'll probably come back to it again later when I get around to working on the cultures.

2014-10-29, 09:17 PM
Waitaminute, I just thought of something: Coatl get +2 Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution? AND +4 Charisma, which basically replaces their Strength score? AND immunity to magical sleep and paralysis? This seems more than a little excessive. I feel like they should get a more modest bonus to Charisma, a small bonus to Dex, and maybe resistance (not immunity) to sleep and paralysis.

Just my two cents. Sorry I didn't think about that earlier.