View Full Version : Pathfinder Trow: A race of musical, magical, murderous marauders and cunning charismatic con men

2014-11-10, 03:36 PM
For your gaming pleasure, I give you, the trow

Based loosely on the creatures of orkney myth, trow are a race of pseudo-fey refugees from another world, who were warped and twisted by a force known as the corruption. Now that they are here, they carve out lives for themselves as traders, bandits, bards and con artists. While most trow are natural illusionists, the corruption created monstrous warriors known as kunal trow, and gifted necromancers known as death mages.

Trow are designed with both PCs and NPCs in mind. While I tried to keep everything within a reason for a PC, certain things are meant more for use on NPCs, particularly the later kunal trow feats.

Now let's get this show on the road. And as always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.



Trow are small, scrawny humanoids with sharp, bony features. Trow tend to have pointy noses, elongated chins, prominent cheekbones and long slender ears with fine points. In short, most trow look like every part of their face was grabbed and stretched in a cruel tug of war. While some trow can have a deformed, almost nightmarish appearance, many still possess a likeable, almost childlike quality, particularly in the eyes, which are large and round.

Most trow are a dull yellow to orange color, though some can also be a pale shade of gray. Their hair is long and wild, growing out from the back of the head, and usually covered, tied back or shaved off entirely. They can have black, brown, dark green or gray hair. Their eyes are deep shades of blue, green and purple, and stand in stark contrast to the muted earth tones of the rest of their appearance.

At just under four feet tall, and an average of 65 pounds, most trow are less than imposing. To a human's eyes, most trow appear awkward and weak, but appearances can be deceiving. While trow can be sickly and bruise easily, they are stronger than they appear, nearly as strong as a human two or three times their size. Many a traveler has learned the hard way that one should never underestimate the trow.


Trow names consist of three syllables that follow a simple rhyming scheme. For males, the first and third syllables rhyme, while for females, the second and third syllables rhyme. Names where all three syllables rhyme are essentially gender neutral.

Male names: Brugabug, Druegaloo, Fahrengar, Rikanik, Worganorg
Female names: Asizi, Hatana, Nasili, Shokolo, Vashornor


According to the tales passed down for countless generations, the trow came from another world. This other plane was an endless wilderness, rich with life and magical energy. The trow were the undisputed masters of this domain, living in a golden age, known as The Age of Song and Snark. In these exaggerated legends, this was a glorious time when music was heard the world over, and even a child could find an endless supply of marks to scam and prank.

The Age of Song and Snark was ended by a taint in the fabric of reality itself. This corruption gradually spread through the world, warping nature and raising the dead. For generations, the trow fought the corruption, using their wits and magic to slow its advance. Over time, the trow themselves felt it's warping touch, and with some becoming distorted creatures, and others finding their magic changing to match the new form the world was taking.

In the end, the battle was hopeless. The last uncorrupted enclaves had sealed themselves off with powerful wards, but time was running out. No one knows for certain how they did it, but somehow, the trow managed to escape the doomed world and ended up here. Some say it was mages, but surely they would have taken credit. Some say it was a god, but no one can agree which one. There are even those that say it was the work of the forces behind the corruption, using the trow to connect to a new world to conquer.

Regardless of how they got here, the trow rapidly adapted to their new home. Forming bonds with this new world, they quickly spread out to all the wild places, creating new homes and rediscovering the wonders of nature.

The Nature of the Trow

Trow have a powerful bond with their environment. They become connected as they grow up and by adulthood, are fully bound to their home. For the rest of their lives, they will feel a subconscious affinity for one particular environment, and will be at their strongest and most comfortable in that kind of terrain. Because of this, trow settlements tend to be particularly resilient. Trow will come back to their home no matter how often they are driven out. Though most trow are only partially aware of it, the land and all living things within are burned onto the trow's soul.

The trow soul is perhaps even more strongly bound to music than it is to nature. Every trow shares a love of song and dance. From a simple tune while chopping wood, to elaborate musical productions integrated into their defense plans, trow see every occasion as one which calls for a song.

Trow even use music to resolve conflicts. Where other societies have fights to the death and trials by combat, the trow have musical duels. Two trow with a score to settle agree on the nature of the challenge, be it singing, dancing, or a particular instrument. A group of at least 3 trow judges the duel and decides the winner, and all trow will take this duty very seriously. The duel is as close to sacred as anything can be for the trow. That's not to say that cheating is unusual or even discouraged, only that the judges will be impartial, and the results honored.

While the duel is usually between trow, it is not unheard of for outsiders to take part. Many a trow has conned a wandering bard with a musical challenge. However, trow won't accept a challenge from just anyone. Among trow there can be reputations to think of, but with outsiders a challenge is meaningless unless the outsider has something the trow wants. A trow bandit is unlikely to accept a challenge from a victim since he will be taking everything from him anyway. But there is no challenge the trow won't accept if the stakes are compelling, and no prize so great the trow would ever conceive of welching on the bet. The dwarves once won an entire mountain from the trow in an epic battle of the bands. Though they did not get the riches they desired, simply witnessing the winning performance was nearly worth the price.

Trow tend to not dwell on losses or suffering. Even death is generally taken in stride. A trow funeral is more likely to feature comedy and insults than dirges and wailing. Trow do of course desire survival and more, and in fact, are often quite cowardly, they just find amusement in the darker parts of life as well as the light ones. This has only made their reputation all the more terrifying, as trow bandits take a horrific joy in the suffering they cause, and are seemingly unaffected by wounds and lost comrades. One could forgive the survivors of a trow attack for thinking they were fighting soulless monsters.

While many trow are bandits and murderers, these are the notable exception that gives the rest a bad name. On the other hand, trow con artists and cheats are very much the norm. Scamming isn't just a job or a hobby for the trow, it is an art and a way of life. Practically from birth, trow learn to manipulate others and see through manipulation. The endless battle of wits forces young trow to become clever, and separates the future leaders from their future minions.

That trow are notoriously deceitful and conniving does little for their relations with others. Trow “businessmen” usually put a tremendous effort into getting a good angle or a monopoly of some kind which will compel others to deal with them despite the obvious risks. Others rely on a friendly face and charming demeanor, or even long standing relationships with shrewd customers. Many a trow will bemoan the misunderstanding that comes with their way of life. According to the teachings of the god Garik, scams are an important service to society. Those who are gullible and unwise need to be taught the error of their ways, and the loss of wealth and possessions is an excellent teacher. By tricking and swindling, the trow teach their victims humility and responsibility. At least, that's what the true believers think, there's plenty of trow who just do it for fun and money.

Family and Community

Trow families are large and often nebulous. Most trow are as close to a third or fourth cousin as they are to a brother or sister. For that matter, the distinction between family and community is trivial at best. Consequently, trow mobs are extremely tight knit, and families even more so.

Trow families grow so large in part because they reproduce in great numbers. Trow reach maturity around the age of 15, but have a potential lifespan 3 or 4 times that of a human. A single trow couple can easily produce dozens of offspring in their lifetime. It doesn't take long for a handful of trow to create a small army, all of whom will be at least fairly loyal to dear old mom and dad.

Trow mobs are a complex web of relationships, constantly changing and evolving. Trow are continually deceiving and manipulating each other, and this can put a strain on any relationship. By constantly allying themselves with one another, and stabbing each other in the back, trow keep each other on their toes. Still, the trow always stick together when faced with an outside threat.

There is little formal leadership structure in trow mobs. Families create a pseudo-hierarchy which serves as the primary organizing principle. Most trow answer to an elder of one kind or another, and several of the eldest will tend to be the loudest voices in the mob. There are also the storytellers, keepers of the history of the mob who rarely lead but often give advice and council. Other respected members of the community will typically include what little clergy they have, as well the the best bards and mages, particularly illusionists and necromancers.

Occasionally, a single leader will emerge. This is usually either a brilliant leader and spellcaster, or particularly tough and vicious kunal trow warrior. Either way, these leaders can fundamentally alter the trow mob, transforming an anarchic band of traders and two-bit crooks into an organized, militarized force. A small mob under such leadership may become bandits, trading companies or criminal organizations, while a large mob can become a rampaging horde or even a small nation.

Strength in numbers is the trow's best defense. Trow rarely pick fights without a sizable advantage, and may even abandon their homes for a time rather than fight a battle they don't know they can win. Trow may lose for a time, but they remember, they grow in number, and they return when their enemies have all but forgotten them.


Trow settlements are sculpted into their environments. Most are difficult to spot from a distance if the trow do not want to be seen. The exact nature of the settlement will of course, depend on the type of terrain it occupies. Forest trow may live in hollowed trees, grassland trow may live in hidden burrows, cave trow may hide in caves covered with camouflaged stone doors, and so on.

For all their numbers, trow don't require much space. Trow dwellings are packed tightly with as many occupants as possible. There is little room for luxury or unnecessary possessions, as no trow would be stupid enough as to keep anything truly valuable out in the open. Trow carry or hide the things they care about, keeping them safe from the others.

Trow have layered defense strategies for their settlements. The first layer is stealth. If no one knows precisely where the settlements is, they can't attack. Trow rarely allow outsiders into their home, but rather maintain a separate meeting place where they can conduct business with other races. The actual settlement is usually well out of the way, and unlikely to be encountered by chance, even knowing the location of the meeting place. Finding the home of a trow mob is difficult and dangerous.

The second and third layer of defenses are patrols. Trow scouts hide in the forest and spot potential threats. These lookouts send back warnings to the mob, and to the skirmishers who intercept threats that come too close to the settlement. Should a traveler spot a scout, the trow is likely to approach him and attempt to sell him something or employ an obvious con, anything to make him think that the trow is a forgettable schmuck and not a soldier guarding his home. If the scout is skilled enough, he may also use illusions to redirect the traveler, moving him away from the settlement without him even knowing it. Should the traveler continue moving closer, he will get hit by skirmishers. These attacks may include snipers, hit and run tactics, and swarms ambushing them from multiple sides simultaneously. Few threats ever make it past these skirmishers.

The fourth layer of defenses is a series of traps. Trow traps range from the standard snares, pits and bear traps to poisoned darts, swinging blades, gas clouds and even explosives. The placement of the traps is tricky as well, with only a few safe routes. The safe routes will typically wander on and off the path, and may even travel through seemingly obvious traps which serve as decoys to lure invaders into the real dangers. Navigating a trow trap field requires either a map of the traps or extreme paranoia and a very long stick.

After the traps, there is only the settlement itself. If the position is defensible enough, the trow may be able to stand and fight, and should they do so, the trow will throw everything they have at their enemies. Attackers can expect hails of arrows, swarms of warriors, potent spells, and in some cases, hordes of undead. If the trow should decide to flee, the attackers will likely find empty structures, and as many nasty surprises as the trow can provide in the time they have.


In a society as lawless as the trow mobs, there are very few formal punishments. Most offenses are expected to be dealt with through trickery and petty revenge. But there will always be those offenses too great for the mob to ignore. Murderers, traitors and others who can no longer be allowed to live among the mob are faced with the prospect of life as an exile.

If a meeting of the mob results in a decision to exile, the trow is prepared in a ceremony mimicking trow funeral rites. He will be wrapped in burial cloth, his face covered in runic blessings, and his hair with filled branches and flowers. The exile will then be marched past his family until he stands at the exit to the settlement. There, a leader will address the crowd, and offer the exile a chance to speak his last words. When the exile finishes he will be held in place, and the leader will brand the exile's wrists with the symbol of their mob. The brand leaves a large scar, marking the trow so that all others will know that he is an exile. For this reason, trow greet each other by clasping each others wrists, as even their illusions cannot hide the feeling of the scar.

Life as an exile is lonely, difficult and dangerous. Trow are used to living in groups, and even when the go off alone they always have a family network to fall back on when they need it. But exiles must do everything on their own. Few trow mobs will ever take in an exile, and most outsiders will be wary of any trow. The exile must learn to be a self-sufficient survivor or he will not last long.

Those exiles who do find their way often take their skills to the other races. Many start out as con artists and small time crooks. From their they may make their way to larger criminal operations, but they may also find legitimate work. Trow often make excellent spies, scouts, guides, traders and merchants. A smart trow can become rich among the other races, but he will never be truly home.

Sometimes exiles find each other, and a strange kinship is formed. This can lead to temporary alliances, or enduring partnerships. Over time exile communities have formed, taking in exiles from across the lands, and branding their own children as a rite of passage. These exile bands have become an emerging faction, militantly opposed to other trow.

Exile bands live in settlements which are well hidden. Unlike most trow, exiles do not maintain a meeting place for contact with other races, and therefore even approximate locations are difficult to acquire. Even once located, exile settlements are well protected by illusions and traps. Most victims of their defenses never even realize that trow were behind it. Even in their business dealing, exiles rarely let the other party know they are trow, but instead take the form of other races such as halflings, gnomes or dwarves.

Exiles hold a grudge against trow society. In the eyes of exile leaders, the trow mobs are hypocritical, undisciplined, selfish and cowardly. The exile bands on the other hand are well organized, disciplined, and orderly, with strict codes of conduct governing all members equally. Each side sees the other as mockery of itself, and the two have become mortal enemies. It is not uncommon for exile bands and trow mobs to declare war on each other, and such fights will not end until one has driven out the other. Even when they aren't engaged in open warfare, exiles and trow are constantly plotting against each other. In the shadows, there are always spies, scouts, assassins and saboteurs keeping the conflict going.

Kunal Trow

The corruption that destroyed the trow's home plane did not leave them unaffected. It has been theorized that the trow's strange appearance is the result of the corruption's influence. Some trow were so warped by the corruption that they lost their magic and became feral, twisted caricatures known as kunal trow.

Kunal trow are taller and bulkier than regular trow. Their skin is typically pale and their hair gray or white. They have large, sharp teeth, and eyes that are dark, sometimes even solid black. Even for trow their noses, chins and cheekbones are particularly large and pointed. The kunal trow's appearance is fierce and terrifying, and unlike most trow, their appearance isn't deceiving.

Kunal trow are tougher than ordinary trow. They can shrug off blows that would drop an ordinary trow, and hit with a ferocity that is unrivaled. Kunal trow are also resistant to the illusions favored by their brethren. Some kunal trow can ignore energy attacks, heal rapidly and even regrow lost limbs. Their abilities and appearance have lead to some speculation that either the trow or the corruption that affected may be somehow related to trolls.

Kunal trow tend to be intimidating, and not just because of their appearance. Kunal trow tend to be much more aggressive and dominant, and given their physical superiority, often make their way into leadership positions. Even if they don't gain total command of their mob, kunal trow will have loyal underlings and significant influence.

Kunal trow who do take control of the mobs have a tendency to lead their people into battle. These warlords will rob travelers, raid villages, and carve out territory for themselves. When the trow become a major threat, it is almost invariably because a kunal trow has made them into one.

Death Mages

When the corruption was devouring the trow home plane and raising the dead, the trow tried to resist and failed miserably. More and more of the world fell to the influence of the corruption. The trow, being connected to the essence of their world, were not unaffected. Over time, some of the trow found their magical nature altered, matching the corruption they fought. They gained influence over the undead and became powerful necromancers known as death mages.

With death mages on their side, the trow were able to fight the corruption and hold it off. The armies of the dead were divided and turned on themselves. Where before, fallen trow were future agents of corruption, the situation was now reversed, and numbers alone could not carry the undead to victory. Though the war was eventually lost, it was the death mages that allowed the trow to survive long enough to escape the destruction of their world.

In their new home, death mages have often struggled to find their way. Without the impending threat of an undead horde, their value is diminished, and the risks they bring are more apparent. While having undead servants can be extremely useful, necromancers can be dangerous. Even if they do not fall down the slippery slope, the mere presence of necromancers can invoke the wrath of other races. In the face of these risks, some trow mobs are unwelcoming to the death mages, though many still embrace them.

Those clans that do allow death mages to operate treat them with a combination of respect and fear. Much like a local witch, death mages provide valuable services, but remain outsiders in their own community. Few trow can deal with a death mage without worrying about ending up as one of their puppets. Still, those death mages that serve their kin are revered, and carry immense influence over their mobs.

Among the trow necromancers, there is a special order known as the sentinels of the twilight. The sentinels are necromancers in service of Molahn'dar, a god of undeath and enemy of the corruption who was attracted to the trow because of their death mages. The sentinels are unique in that they are dedicated to fighting necromancy and the undead. Though they use the undead as tools, the sentinels do it only as a means to an end. Their order brings trow necromancers under their control, and hunts down all other sources of the undead. They walk a fine line, but do so in order to prevent the loss of another world.

Relations with other races

Other races are wary of the trow at best. Too many con men and bandits have given the trow a bad name for them to be trusted by anyone. Still, trow have traders and merchants among the other races, which is at least enough to keep them from being treated as enemies by default. But most races consider it common sense to never trust a trow.

There are of course, exceptions to the rule. Some trow manage to earn the respect of outsiders, and some trow mobs form alliances with other races when it suits them. Trow have a reputation, but not one which cannot be overcome. Many people have good business relationships with a trow, almost enough to trust them.

Trow often try to get other races to underestimate them. As long as other races view them as weak, cowardly, and dimwitted, the trow have the upper hand. Trow will maintain this ruse as best they can, and in doing so, lull the other races into a false sense of security. While some trow might try to take advantage of this situation, many simply use it to overcome the biases that hold trow back. Ironically, it often takes a lot of lying and trickery for a trow to make an honest living.


Trow adventurers are not uncommon. Some trow seek to make their fortune, others simply enjoy the road and the sense of wonder and excitement that comes with it. They may also be driven to adventure in service of their mob or to survive an exile. Whatever their reason, trow are valuable allies for any adventuring party. If a trow travels with a party long enough he may even begin to see them as part of the family. Such attachments can be reason enough for a trow to take up a life of adventuring.

Race Traits

Ability Scores: -2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma
Type: Humanoid (Trow)
Size: Small
Speed: 20
Languages: Trow begin play knowing Common and Trow. Trow with a high intelligence modifier can learn the following languages: Aquan, Auran, Draconic, Gnome, Orc, Sylvan, and Terran

Darkvision: Trow can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Bond to the Land: Trow gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC when in a specific terrain type selected from the ranger's list of favored terrains. This choice is made at character creation, and cannot be changed.

Tricky: Trow gain a +2 bonus to bluff, perform and sense motive checks.

Trow Magic: Trow add +1 to the DC of any illusion spells they cast. They also gain the following spell-like abilities (the caster level is equal to the user's character level. The DC for the spells is equal to 10 + the spell's level + the caster's Intelligence modifier.):
Constant: nondetection;
1/day: disguise self, expeditious retreat, ventriloquism

Weapon Familiarity: Trow are always proficient with shortbows and hooked axes

Alternate Race Traits

Death Magic: Trow add +1 to the caster level of any necromancy spells they cast. They also gain the following spell-like abilities (the caster level is equal to the user's character level. The DC for the spells is equal to 10 + the spell's level + the caster's Charisma modifier.) This trait replaces Trow Magic.
Constant: nondetection;
1/day: chill touch, deathwatch, detect undead

Exile: The trow gains a +2 bonus to disguise, stealth, and survival checks. In addition, the trow gains an additional +2 bonus to stealth checks when in a specific terrain type selected from the ranger's list of favored terrains. This choice is made at character creation, and cannot be changed. This trait replaces Bond to the Land and Tricky.

Kunal Trow: Kunal Trow have tough bodies and strong wills. They gain a +2 natural armor bonus, +2 to intimidate checks, and a +2 bonus to saves against illusions. This replaces Tricky and Trow Magic.

Poison Master: Some trow forgo weapon training in order to learn the arts of trow poisons. The trow is skilled with poison and never risks accidentally poisoning himself when applying it to weapons. In addition, the trow gains a +2 bonus to craft (alchemy) checks. This trait replaces weapon familiarity.

Swarming: Trow are used to fighting close together in groups in order to gain an advantage against the the larger races. Up to two trow with this trait can share the same square at the same time. If two trow that are occupying the same square attack the same foe, they are considered to be flanking that foe as if they were in two opposite squares. This trait replaces bond to the land.

Racial Feats

Death Magic, Improved: Detect undead becomes usable 2/day. In addition, you gain hide from undead and unseen servant 1/day. (prerequisite: Death Magic)

Death Magic, Greater: Detect undead becomes at will and deathwatch becomes usable 2/day. In addition, the trow gains carrion compass and command undead 1/day. (Prerequisite: Cha 13, Improved Death Magic)

Death Mastery: The trow gains lesser animate undead 1/day. The trow can control undead using his HD as his caster level. Abilities which increase the limit of undead you can control do not stack with this ability, nor does this ability stack with the caster level from any other class. If the trow has an undead HD control limit from another source, use the better of the two. (Prerequisite: Cha 13, Greater Death Magic)

Fools Fight Fair: The trow gains a +1 bonus to hit and a +2 bonus to damage when attacking an opponent who is denied their dexterity bonus to AC, who is prone, or who the trow is flanking.

Kunal Fangs: The kunal trow has a feral appearance and wicked teeth. The trow gains a 1d3 bite attack (1d4 if medium size). (prerequisite: Str 13, Kunal Might)

Kunal Gigantism: The trow is medium size, with the normal movement speed, and various bonuses and penalties of a creature of medium size. This feat must be taken at level 1. (prerequisite: Kunal Trow)

Kunal Might: The trow gains a +2 bonus to critical confirmation rolls with melee weapons. On a successful critical hit with a melee weapon, the trow increases the critical multiplier by 1 when calculating the strength bonus to damage. All other damage is calculated normally. (Prerequisite: Kunal Trow)

Kunal Resistance: The trow increases his resistance to fire, cold, electricity, acid and sonic damage by 3. (Prerequisite: Con 11, Kunal Might, Level 3)

Kunal Toughness: The kunal trow gains damage reduction 2/-. (Prerequisite: Con 13, Kunal Resistance, Level 7)

Kunal Resilience: The kunal trow gains fast healing 1. (Prerequisite: Con 17, Kunal Toughness, level 11)

Kunal Regeneration: The kunal trow gains regeneration 1 (fire and acid) in addition to it's existing fast healing. (Prerequisite: Con 19, Kunal Resilience, level 15)

The Harder They Fall: The trow is a master at using an opponent's size against them. The trow gains a +2 bonus to CMB and CMD against creatures at least on size category larger than himself. (prerequisite: BAB +1)

Trow Magic, Improved: You gain Silent Image 1/day, as well as message and prestidigitation 2/day. (prerequisite: Trow Magic)

Trow Magic, Greater: Message and prestidigitation become at will. You gain feather step and illusion of calm 1/day. (prerequisite: Int 13, Improved Trow Magic)

Trow Magic Mastery: You gain an additional use of disguise self, expeditious retreat, feather step , illusion of calm and ventriloquism each day. Silent image becomes minor image, and you gain mirror image 1/day. (prerequisite: Int 13, Greater Trow Magic)