The Kreen of the Desert
Table of Contents
I developed this variation of the thri-kreen a number of years ago as part of a collaborative world creation game. I started off with the 3.5 update to the kreen and tried to work backwards to recapture their second edition flavor and concept. The development changed from that to fit more with the game world as they developed. The kreen have long been my favorite race, and I have shared this homebrew many times over the years. It has been extensively play tested, and I'm quite happy with it, though I'm always open to suggestions, ideas, and criticism. Though it's been linked many times, this homebrew has never actually been posted on these forums in its entirety. So, I have chosen to share it with the Playground now.
The Kreen Race
The Kreen are a race of insect-like beings sometimes likened to the praying mantis. Their minds are alien, driven by instinct, ritual, and genetic memory, though they are more like the more common races than one might expect. Many believe them to be bloodthirsty monsters, for they are indeed great hunters who relish the hunt and the kill, but that is but the surface.
Within kreen culture, there exist two very distinct groups. While closely related, they sometimes see themselves as two different races.
The Thri are fierce warriors, hunters, and trackers. They live out their lives as nomads, wandering the burning sands of their desert home. A clutch of roving Thri is fearsome to behold, a family of wandering hunters, perfectly adapted to the desert, ever looking for the next oasis. Thri posses a purity of mind and distinct nobility and unique to the deserts. While open and welcoming to others, they guard their clutch with a brutality not unlike a deadly sandstorm.
The Tohr, by contrast, believe the Thri to be mere savages while they are the truly civilized ones. Though they still enjoy the hunt, they have given up their nomadic life to build an empire along the shores of the Da'sed-Dun river. The metropolitan Tohr are masters of their environs, creating great cities that excel in areas of spirituality and the arts, the only areas of study they view as truly worthwhile.
Personality: Kreen are defined by the clutch, the family unit. There is little more sacred to a kreen than family. A kreen will defend a clutch-mate to the death. To a kreen, there is simply no other option. Though the clutch is usually formed from a kreen's blood relatives, there are times when a kreen can bond with other kreen and even members of other races. A kreen so bonded treats them just as he would his own family. Kreen tend to view anyone outside of his immediate clutch as a potential enemy and can be overly suspicious of others. Kreen also have no need for sleep and do not understand why other races need it, regarding it as a weakness or a bad habit. Kreen usually perceive those who require sleep as simply being lazy.
Thri are generally more reserved when meeting others than the Tohr, but they are always friendly and welcoming, traits which frequently aid their survival in the hostile wastes. However, they are quick to turn should a guest prove false or hostile.
Tohr tend to regard all other Tohr as a sort of extended clutch. While the clutch has become less meaningful to them, no sane Tohr willingly harms or betrays another of his race. Should a Tohr be in danger, others will rush to his aid, though they will not readily lay down their own lives for him.
Physical Description: Kreen are easily likened to a praying mantis in human size. Though they lack the distinct large abdomen of the mantis, the similarities are unmistakable. Kreen stand between 5 and 7 feet tall, tending toward 7, with the females being noticeably larger and stronger. Their exoskeleton is a sandy yellow in color, allowing it to move stealthily in its desert home. Of its six limbs, only the two hind limbs are used for walking, though they are obviously built for speed and powerful leaping. Their four upper limbs are built for grasping and rending their prey, with jagged edges and ending in sharp claws. Their heads are dominated by their large compound eyes and powerful mandibles. Most kreen wear only simple leather harnesses sufficient to carry their belongings, though Tohr tend to wear bits of expensive cloth as decoration and to denote social status.
Relations: Kreen view themselves as truly noble and as physically perfected hunters. Though they tend to look down on the other races, they tend to regard them more as children than as inferior beings. They also view themselves as the protectors and keepers of the land and will bring to justice anyone who despoils the land.
Thri generally regard anyone who farms or works the land as beneath contempt, unworthy of even giving notice. To them those who willfully avoid the predator to prey relationship are avoiding their natural roles and are at best cowards or prey themselves.
Though they live in cities, Tohr do not farm, having many of the same preconceptions as their Thri brethren. They employ members of other races to work the fields in order to provide for the herds of animals used to feed the Tohr population. Though not enslaved, most of these are indentured servants who will never leave their farms.
Elves deserve a special mention, as they are always in mortal danger around the kreen. Kreen find the scent of an elf to be particularly enticing, eliciting a strong predatory instinct toward the elf that the kreen has a difficult time suppressing. Any kreen who has tasted elf flesh becomes quickly addicted to what they describe as a meal handed down by the gods, and they will even turn on former allies to sate their addiction for fresh elf.
Alignment: Driven by their racial memories and instinct and ruled by their attachment and devotion to the clutch, kreen are almost exclusively lawful in alignment. Though often inscrutable, they live by rigid rules for social behavior and can become confused or irritated when others fail to live by their unspoken codes.
Kreen Lands: Kreen love heat and basking in the sun, living almost exclusively in hot, dry climates. They gladly take to the endless dune seas of the desert that other races avoid, provided enough prey can be found.
Religion: Thri-kreen favor a shamanistic tradition honoring the clutch, the land, and a few racial deities. Their shamans serve as the spiritual leaders of the race. Tohr and Thri both avidly worship Klik'chak and Cliktith. Klik'chak, the creator and bringer of knowledge is sometimes affectionately called Father. The Kreen also believe in certain local deities, livings gods ascended from the priest-kings of their society. Kreen generally believe non-Kreen deities are imaginary or mere pretenders to godhood, unworthy of worship and eventually doomed to destruction and eternal torment for their prideful lies.
Language: Kreen speak their own language, which has no name in their own tongue, though it is usually referred to as either "Kreen" or "Click" by other races.
Kreen Names: Kreen make no distinction between names for male and female, nor are they named at their birth. Each kreen is simply referred to as "child" or a childish nickname until they reach adolescence and complete a quest, usually a hunt of some kind, to enter adulthood. They acquire a name at that time, which is always related in some way to their quest.
Adventurers: Few kreen become adventurers outside of their own lands. Most who do are on their ritual quest, seeking to complete a grand task to be recognized as an adult and hero among their people. On occasion, these kreen seeking glory will join with a band of adventurers for their own ends, though they seldom remain for long after they believe their quest completed.