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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Jul 2008

    Default [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    The following post contains three things:
    A) The philosophy of the Script of Existence
    B) The original creators of that philosophy, the Readers
    C) A need for editing, probably.

    Some attribute great importance to the written word; for written words can last forever, without change or alteration. The spoken word is chaotic, with nothing to pin its meaning down. As the ages pass, it can change and alter. In a hundred years, spoken information can be distorted and perverted according to the whims of chance and those who speak it anew. The written word is never rewritten, and even when the language it is written in is forgotten, it can be relearned through linguistic study; for all languages have a common base: the Script of Existence.

    The Script of Existence may have a spoken form, but logically the form would be impossible to use with mortal mouths and hear with mortal ears. The Script of Existence is incomprehensible, but at least it is readable; for the Script of Existence is the world itself.

    Every object, every grain of sand, every feeling and thought that passes in the multiverse, in every incarnation and possibility of every plane of existence, is a written phone, letter, syllable, word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, part, book, shelf, bookcase, library, or archive in the underlining blank sheet of reality, which is really no sheet at all, but a nigh-infinite-dimensional form of incomprehensible, immeasurable, and uncountable size. With our ears, skin, mouth, nose, and eyes we read those words and translate them into some form of meaning we can comprehend. Yet some things cannot be translated at all, for they are far above us, just like we cannot pass through stone walls; it is not the material of the stone prevents us from doing so. It is simply that we cannot comprehend the underlining meaning of the action, or of the wall. The ability to break down the wall does not offer us any additional comprehension; it is simply that our own meanings are written in such a way as to make the meaning of the wall irrelevant, as long as they are combined with others; those of circumstance, magic, or chance.

    True understanding, true comprehension of the Script of Existence allows a being to achieve the power of greater deities; and, indeed, they can perfectly understand it; though they lack the tools and knowledge to write in it. Only the Overdeities, beings completely beyond our comprehension in ways also beyond our comprehension, can write and augment reality at a whim. The existence of Overdeities is not written in the Script of Existence, though they can append it in such a way as to deliver messages or cause effects that make their existence plain to those who exist through it.
    It is important to mention that the way Overdeities exist is fundamentally superior, but not necessarily truer than the normal form of Existence. As existence is defined by the observer, both forms of existence are true. Even Overdeities are incapable of changing the definition of a form of sentient existence.

    As every language, even the Script of Existence, must be defined somewhere by someone, and there must be dictionaries and instruction manuals for its learning, even it has a creator. There may be beings that can not only append, rewrite, and erase the Archive of Existence but can also reinvent the Script of Existence entirely, shaking not only the universe itself, but also its underlying logic and nature to its core. And above them there may be still other beings, and so on.

    The closest thing to the Script of Existence is arcane magic, which directly augments reality. It is not the Script itself, for once a being knows the script there are no limitations for what it could do, but perhaps it is a simplified form of script or meaning, a crude appendix to existence itself created by some mentally vast being for whatever reason. Divine magic is merely a Scripted form of commune with deities, who may answer requests by taking the appropriate actions to cause certain changes in Archive. Some creatures can learn to speak or write in the Arcane Language, while others are born with that knowledge; such as Dragons and their decedents.

    Psionics is possibly an even higher form of augmentation, as it stems from the nature of sentience to strive to grow above the script of existence; to defeat its own nature, as it were. Without understanding what they are doing, Psionic creatures make slight alterations in the Archive of Existence. The alterations do not influence the anything but the meaning of the Psion herself, but they are sufficient; since the alterations allow a Psion to influence other meanings of the Archive in various ways.

    The philosophy of the Script of Existence is not an organized religion, but a collection of beliefs and logical proof to back them up. The first believers of the Script were the Readers, a race that attributes great importance to the written word, but others have begun to believe in it as well. Most who believe in it are arcane casters, but there are others among its believers, including martial adepts, and psions. Few divine casters believe in it, since it claims that all deities are greedy beings that strive to milk sentience from every last bit of energy it has.

    The original creators of the Philosophy of the Script of Existence, the Readers are an ancient race that has nevertheless had little impact on the world.

    Readers are tall, frail, and slim humanoids. Their skeleton can be easily seen through their purple skin. Their limbs are longer than those of humans, especially their arms. Their faces are starkly different from those of other humanoids, with 2 pairs of eyes, every pair roughly the same size (potential colors are blue, colorless pink, and green, with different pairs being potentially in different colors), a short and thin nose, and a wide lipless mouth. They completely lack ears of any kind, though they can hear through their skin. They may have faint wisps of hair on their heads or faces (if male), but most are completely bald. To accommodate the extra eyes, their foreheads are raised higher than those of humans.

    The long arms of Readers end in large hands, with every hand having 10, long, thin and fully functional digits of the same size. In fact, Reader fingers have a much larger range of movement than Human fingers; they can easily fold them against the back of their hands, for example. Their strange hands have a certain spidery appearance or feel, especially once one has seen the exactitude and speed in which they move them. Reader digits have 4 knuckles on each finger, including the finger’s base. They can bend their knuckles freely in an arc of almost 360 degrees.

    There is no difference in weight, height, or strength between Reader females and males, though males occasionally have hair while females almost never do.
    Readers do not have a spoken language, nor can they speak one, since they are mute.

    Reader written language, however, is complex, aesthetic, robust, and efficient. They can express much in very little room. Readers write with all of their fingers, using special writing tools designed by them. They can simultaneously write the beginning, middle, and end of a page with their large hands and ability to move their digits without relation to one another. Because Readers have excellent visual memory and manual dexterity, letters are usually written identically and with great precision; due to this, many letters are almost, but not quite, the same.

    All these things make Reader language extremely hard to learn, but those who have patience can still manage it with enough practice.

    When instantaneous communication is required Readers use their hands to fashion letters in their written language. The letters are written in such a way that Readers require less than a single hand to fashion them, and the resulting form is so exact that this form of sign language is easy to understand; as long as you know the written language itself. Readers may occasionally fashion more than one letter with a single hand, though this may make them more difficult to understand even to their own people. In any case, when a Reader uses this form of communication, the reading order is from right to left. Most other races can learn to communicate this way, though they may be forced to use both hands to do so.

    Despite their inability to speak, they can easily learn additional languages, or at least, to read and write in them. When instantaneous communication is required in those languages they may fashion letters with their hands just like with their native language, though in some languages both hands may be required for the Reader to be understood.

    Readers can also make strange, stifled gurgling sounds. The sounds have a surprising range of frequency and volume. The sounds are made by the Reader’s digestive system, not actual voice.

    Readers believe in the Script of Existence. They strive to learn the Script itself, a goal they know will never be fulfilled. However, through their attempts, they have raised some of the most powerful arcane casters in existence. They see the arcane as the closest thing to the script itself; the closest thing they can understand, at least.

    Readers attribute great importance the written word. In their eyes, spoken words and even signed ones carry little importance; a non-written agreement is no agreement at all. However, a written agreement can bind them as tightly and surely as a steel chain could. They fear that, should they violate their written word, they will forget the importance and power of the Script of Existence, consigning themselves to a false, directionless life.

    Many Readers carry a medium and a tool for writing at all times. This is both because they feel there are many situations in which these tools may be used, but also because they often write down important statements; even when there seems to be no reason for doing so. For example, a Reader that discovers a great truth may simply take out a piece of paper or parchment and write it down. She will likely keep the paper or parchment for herself; it is merely the act that was significant, not the result. The act signifies and emphasizes the importance of the occurrence; the Reader will likely write it down once more in the Chronicles of her life.

    Most Readers carry with them a small book written in extremely small and cramped script. The book is unreadable to most creatures, even those that know the Reader language, because most creatures do not have the eyesight to make the words out. Within the book are the full chronicles of the Reader’s life. The book is begun on the Reader’s 10th year, once he learns to write, and ended on the last day of his life. While most such books are manuals of study, as most Readers study from life till death, those of great adventurers may contain exacting information about historical events and great secrets about the past. It is customary for the Chronicles of a Reader’s life to be brought before the Knowing of his tribe. In fact, most Readers insist on it and make their companions swear they would do so (writing, of course), should the Reader die.

    Once the book reaches the Knowing they read it from start to finish, attempting to find information that furthers the whole of the Readers to a state of greater knowledge regarding the Script and the arcane.

    Contrary to what some would expect from their studious nature and frail appearance, Readers are not averse to manual labor. In fact, some find comfort and relaxation in it; something to do while the mind rests. Although it is true Readers are not as strong or durable as most other humanoid races, it simply makes them try harder.

    Readers live in secluded areas; the type of area does not matter to them, as long as there is nothing to interfere with their study and research (though they still need sources of food and water). They prefer rounded buildings of wood or stone. Some are fashioned using magic, while others through manual labor. Most of their homes contain little, as they need little to survive.
    Readers are organized first into tribes, then into the collective. Tribes usually contain 100 to 300 Readers, each an equal and full member of the collective in his worth as a person. However, the more knowledge a member of the tribe has attained, the more his words and thoughts are taken seriously. The highest in this hierarchy of knowledge are the Knowing, a group of 4 to 8 people who are equal to all other Readers in terms of quality of life, but carry much more responsibility on their shoulders, due to their exceptional knowledge and intelligence.

    The Knowing do not need to be very old, though this is usually the case. Sometimes a comparatively young Reader might join the Knowing, due to having attained great knowledge usually through adventuring or through study outside. Age is not a key aspect of Reader society, as Readers understand a creature can be ten thousand years old and still be set in the foolish ways he learned as a child.

    The Knowing decide the laws of the tribe, judge, and hand out punishments. They also direct the tribe’s direction of study. Ideally, the direction would complement the directions other Reader tribes are taking.

    All members of the Reader Collective perform the same amount of tasks and are given the same resources, carefully decided upon by the Knowing, so that no Reader will lack and no Reader will gain more than any other. Although knowledge is important, giving more to those who know more is a surefire way to stagnate discovery; because they are undervalued, small sources of knowledge (that is, less knowledgeable Readers) will never expend. At times, however, it is found that some Tribes have more resources than others, as the tribes are not necessarily close to one another. In such cases, it is the duty of the wealthier tribe to aid the poorer tribe in attaining the same amount of resources.

    Although most of the activities performed by tribes are scholarly, there must also be those who carry water, build new buildings, prepare food, and grow crops (Readers cannot digest meat). The people who do these tasks are not necessarily who know the least or the most unintelligent; even the greatest of the Knowing may need to relax their minds for a while, taking a vacation from their duties, as it were.

    In important cases the Knowing of all tribes may agree upon a physical gathering, rather than using arcane magic to converse at a distance. This is known as a Gathering of Knowledge, held in a tribe determined randomly. In this grand event the Knowing come together and decide, through an unfortunate excess of yelling and shouting, on the appropriate course of action.

    War between Reader tribes is unheard of by most Readers, though some incidents have happened before, usually because a false Knowing tricked his fellows and rose to power. When a false Knowing is in control, terrible things may happen; he may start a war against other societies, falsely believing killing is the best way to gather more knowledge. He may lead the tribe astray, devaluing the search for comprehension. Worst of all, he may enslave his tribe with written words and agreements, living in luxury while treading on their faces. In such cases, it is the solemn duty of other tribes to intervene.
    Reader outcasts are not that uncommon, however. Every so often a Reader would lose sight of the search for comprehension or begin to despair at tasks that, to him, seem purposeless – after all, if true comprehension of the Script can never be attained, why strive for it? In such cases the Knowing must banish the Reader from the tribe, lest he infect the entire tribe with such foolishness and the entire tribe would become false.

    Readers do not have many relations with other races, as they prefer to keep to their secluded tribes. In fact, many are not even aware of their existence. However, every so often a Reader would decide to go adventuring or make a pilgrimage to faraway halls of arcane learning. In these rare cases, the Readers would surprise and impress fellow arcane casters with their strange, yet deep understanding the magic.

    Due to their passive, generally caring nature Readers are driven towards good, though not all are so. A Reader can still be evil while generally adhering to their philosophies, if only because she is afraid of losing such a great source of knowledge.
    Readers heavily learn towards Law rather than chaos, because of their rigid, unrelenting respect of the written word.
    Readers do not have spoken names, as they do not have a spoken language at all. They may introduce themselves in foreign languages using certain names, and those names are bound to have pronunciations. An experienced enough Reader might even recognize those pronunciations once spoken. Generally, however, Readers have personal signatures. These are not words in the Reader language, but wholly different symbols; though Reader words may be found in them, if one looks closely enough.

    Most Reader signatures are incredibly complex and precise. Although few Readers would believe there are those who would forge written documents, personal signatures must be made with such exactitude that even other Readers find it nigh-impossible to forge another’s signature.

    Personal signatures are highly varied, though male signatures tend to have more corners than female signatures and female signatures tend to be longer.
    Readers also have family signatures, though they are rarely used; when a Reader becomes of age, he generally distances himself from his family. Some take this distance to extremes, not even allowing themselves to be identified by the family signatures anymore. A family signature is decided upon together by the mother and father of the family.

    There are no tribe signatures or collective signatures, though there are words that have those meanings. What Readers consider illogical paranoia from forging does not extend beyond the personal and family spheres.


    While most Readers content themselves with research and contemplation, some desire knowledge more than others. In order to gain that knowledge, they are prepared to risk life and limb, taking on the life of an adventurer. The knowledge these Readers seek may not explicitly be connected to the Script; some Readers, though careful to conceal these thoughts from their fellows, are interested in things that, in their multitude of eyes, are greater than comprehension of the Script: the world and the people within it. They may still strive to discover secrets, but those desires may take second place to their desire to experience the world.

    There are also outcast Readers who have become disillusioned by research and contemplation entirely. They have abandoned the collective and its beliefs utterly, and have either been banished or banished themselves to the outside world. These Readers find little place in the everyday life of most cities, usually viewed as strange, foreign, and possibly dangerous creatures because of their strange appearance, so they take to one of the professions that often disregards the strangeness of one’s appearance: adventuring.


    • Readers are Monstrous Humanoids of Medium size

    +4 to Intelligence: Readers have highly developed minds.

    -2 to Strength, -2 to Constitution:: Readers are frailer and weaker than other races.

    Mute (Ex): Readers cannot speak. Although they can make some sounds with their mouth, these sounds cannot imitate normal speech. Instead, they use a form of sign language to communicate. This also means they cannot cast spells with vocal components. This condition cannot be cured in any way.

    Written Affinity: Readers gain a +4 racial bonus on Decipher Script checks, Use Magic Device checks when used on scrolls, and Craft (Writing) checks. They also have a +8 racial bonus on Forgery checks. They always consider Forgery and Decipher Script as class skills.

    Additional Eyes (Ex): Readers gain a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks due to their multitude of sharp eyes.

    Fast Reading/Writing (Ex): Readers perform tasks involving reading and writing much faster than other races. When dealing with mundane script, they can read, write, perform Forgery checks and perform Decipher Script checks 5 times faster than normal.
    When dealing with magical script, they can add a spell to their spellbook, learn a spell from a spellbook or scroll, decipher a spell, and scribe scrolls 3 times faster than normal.
    If, though this ability, the time required to perform an action is reduced to less than 1 round, the action can be performed as a standard action. If the action was originally less than 1 round, it can be performed as a swift action.

    Written Spell (Ex): Readers, although lacking the ability to use vocal components, can replace those components with written components. Readers cast spells with written components by writing down the spell in the air with their multitude of fingers. Readers cannot complete spells with written components while wearing gloves, gauntlets, or similar items. When casting spells from scrolls Readers may ignore written components as well.

    Command Symbol (Ex): Readers can make a symbol with one of their hands instead of using a command word to activate a magical item. Once they know the command word they also know the equivalent command symbol.

    • Readers have a base land speed of 30 feet.

    Automatic Languages: Reader, Common. Bonus Languages: Any.

    Favored class: Wizard.

    Level Adjustment: +1


    Magical Script Affinity [Racial]
    You gain a powerful affinity to written magic.
    Prerequisites: Written Spell, Ability to cast 4th level arcane spells, Scribe Scroll, Spellcraft 10.
    Benefit: Whenever you cast a spell from a scroll increase its effective caster level by 1 for the purpose of determining its effects and making caster level checks.

    Spell of Comprehension [Racial]
    You merely need to comprehend a written spell for its effects to be apparent.
    Prerequisites: Written Spell, Ability to cast 5th level spells, Scribe Scroll, Spellcraft 12.
    Benefit: Once per encounter you may cast a spell from a scroll by taking a purely mental swift action (the spell doesn’t even have somatic components). The level of the spell must be lower by 5 or more than the level of the highest level spell you can cast.

    Sensitive Skin [Racial]
    Your skin is especially sensitive to low-frequency vibrations.
    Prerequisites: Reader race, Character level 9th, Wis 15, Listen 6.
    Benefit: You can detect the presence or absence of creatures around you, granting you Blindsense out to 5 feet. The range of this Blindsense ability increases by 5 feet per point of Wisdom modifier.

    Efficient Spell Scribe [Racial]
    Your ability to read and write with extreme speed, as well as your comprehension of arcane script, allow you to make scrolls quickly and efficiently.
    Prerequisites: Fast Reading/Writing, Ability to cast 5th level arcane spells, Scribe Scroll, Magical Script Affinity, Master Scribe, Decipher Script 12
    Benefit: You only need ¾ of the normal XP and material component cost to scribe scrolls.

    All-seeing [Racial]
    You are even more observant than your fellow Readers.
    Prerequisites: Additional Eyes, Spot 4, Search 4, Character level 6th.
    Benefit: Your racial bonus to Spot and Search checks increases to +8.

    Master Scribe [Racial]

    Your knowledge and scribing expertise are even greater than those of other Readers.
    Prerequisites: Written Affinity, Decipher Script 9
    Benefit: Your racial bonus to Decipher Script checks, Forgery checks, Use Magic Device, and Craft (Writing) checks increases by 4.

    Master Forger [Racial]
    You use your sharp eyes and scribing ability allow you to make perfect forgeries; and with how forgery is unacceptable in Reader society, who is even going to suspect?
    Prerequisites: Written Affinity, Master Scribe, All-seeing, Forgery 15.
    Benefit: Your racial bonus to Forgery checks increases to +20.

    Script Spell [Racial, Metamagic]
    You gain rudimentary understanding of the script of existence and combine it with your arcane spellcasting ability.
    Prerequisites: Ability to cast and prepare 3rd level arcane spells, Written Spell, Master Scribe, One other metamagic feat, Scribe Scroll.
    Benefit: This feat allows you to cast a spell to scroll using knowledge you have discovered regarding the Script of Existence. The result is much more real and more difficult to remove. A Script Spell takes up a spell slot 2 levels higher than a normal spell.
    The caster gains a +10 bonus on caster level checks made to penetrate spell resistance and the DC to dispel the spell increases by 10.
    Script Spells are always cast as Written spells.


    10th: Script Seer, replaces the bonus feat and the 4th level spell slot gained this level (you continue gaining spells normally).
    You may choose 1 psionic power from the psionic Seer's list of powers (both the Seer list and the Psion/Wilder list) and learn it as a psi-like ability you can use once per day.
    At 15th level you may forgo your bonus feat and replace the power with another. This time the power may be up to 7th level.
    At 20th level you may forgo your bonus feat and replace your power with another. This time the power may be of any level.
    Last edited by Syne; 2008-07-26 at 06:35 AM.
    Books and the people who read them.
    Sometimes, a little madness is a good thing.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Broken Damaged Worthless

    Default Re: [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    I'm not gonna say much about the fluff, other than: frikkin' WIN. Love it.

    However, about the Reader race itself, my only concern is that they might be more than a +1 LA. +4 Int is a LOT. Like, a metric-ton of a lot. I'm not sure that the other stat penalties offset that enough, and I might encourage you to make them a +2 LA instead.

    Also, Written Spell and Command Symbol basically give them +0 adjustment Silent Spell... all the time. Plus their +4 Int, and these guys are INSANELY powerful wizards. I figure that's the idea, but still... free Silent Spell seems really good...

    Other than those few nitpicks, I love the fluff and the race, and will probably *yoink* this if you don't mind. I can't have enough new stuff for my games.


    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Firbolg in the Playground
    AstralFire's Avatar

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    Oct 2007

    Default Re: [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    My numbercruncher brain is currently fried, but I gotta say that I love your ideas and flavor.

    a steampunk fantasy ♦ the novelthe album

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default Re: [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    Man, I'm sorry you didn't get to enter this race in the competition. Woulda kicked my butt, I'm sure.

    The fluff is awesome. For the crunch, you might wanna either tone them back quite a bit to +0, or beef them up just a bit more. If you're going for +1, throw in a little something extra. Maybe some innate magical abilities?

    The Readers seem to be natural skill-monkies
    They wouldn't make half-bad artificers, though.

    They may have faint wisps of hair on their heads or faces (if male), but most are completely bald.
    Minor typo.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
    RTGoodman's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Eastern NC

    Default Re: [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    These are really cool, but to me they seem REALLY powerful.

    I'm not so much worried about the "free" Silent Spell as the fact that you gave them a big drawback to their otherwise great abilities and then just gave them ability that keeps it from ever being a problem. The only drawback to them is that you can't wear gloves/gauntlets, which isn't that big of a deal for a caster. Overall though, that's not too bad, though if you wanted something to compare them to, there's a monstrous race somewhere called Buommon or something that are all naturally mute.

    On the other hand, +4 Int, even with the two stat penalties, is HUGE for Wizards (and Archivists, which are a natural fit for the race), and you've basically eliminated one of the limitations of Wizards, so aptly illustrated here - that they have to actually spend time to add new spells into their spellbooks. Efficient Spell Scribe magnifies this, too, but I guess it's not as bad considering the various requirements (several feats and ranks in a rarely-used skill).

    The feat to cast as a swift action and maybe the Blindsense one both seem a little powerful, also, but I don't see them as totally broken. The scroll has that potential, though, so watch out.

    The skill bonuses all seem REALLY high also. It's probably okay for Forgery (since it sees very little use) and maybe even Decipher Script (for the same reason), but for Spot, Listen, and Use Magic Device (even if just for scrolls) is probably a little much, especially with the feats that DOUBLE them.

    One flavor nitpick - to me, it seems like they'd tend toward neutrality on the Good-Evil spectrum rather than good, but that's just personal taste and doesn't really make difference anyway.

    EDIT: Just saw/remembered the +1 LA. That helps a bit, but they still seem strong to me.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-07-25 at 09:00 PM.
    The Playgrounder Formerly Known as rtg0922

    "Themes of Ansalon" - A 4E Dragonlance Supplement
    Homebrew Compendium

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: [Race] Yes, People Who Read Books Are A Race Now

    I really don't think this race is overpowered for an LA+1 race. I mean, compared to Catfolk (who have DEX+4 CHA+2). The three stat penalties (though only the Constitution penalty makes much difference) make up for the free Silent Spell ability.

    While there are indeed +2/+2 skill feats, in my opinion they are useless. I've never seen anyone pick them, barring cases in which the players were disinterested with their character's power level. In fact, in my opinion skill feats should be +4/+4 or +2/+2 and you get the skill as a class skill. Most classes would still have better feats to pick probably, but this at least gives skill feats a chance. From this, I maintain that the +4/+4 to Spot and Search isn't really too much, especially given the three -2 penalties compared to Catfolk.

    Also Fast Reading/Writing doesn't have much in-game effect. Even if you could with this add new spells in the middle of an adventure (which is uncertain), you still wouldn't be able to cast them without resting.

    Thanks for the comments, though. And I'll fix that typo right away.

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