The Nightmare Before the Dream
Also known as the “Children of Vermin,” the roden are an older race purportedly brought into being by The Creator as a gift for the god Vermin. The roden are in essence rat-men. They’re completely covered in coarse hair, sport wire-like whiskers and have thick, fleshy tails. The roden are reviled by other races, particularly dwarves, due to their reputation for being untrustworthy liars, thieves and assassins.
History & Society:
Roden history begins with their lone deity, Vermin. Vermin is lord and master of a rich portfolio. To the roden, Vermin represents everything from plague and murder to creativity, pride and desire. Vermin’s warlocks hold important positions in roden clan (also called nests) society, serving as leaders, advisers and arbitrators in non-violent and violent disputes. Roden clans bicker constantly despite their shared loyalty to their god. They squabble about everything from politics to trade and religion. Inter-clan warfare is common, but usually brief.
Vermin’s warlocks encourage fierce competition in all aspects of life. It’s entirely acceptable for the roden to cheat, lie and otherwise scheme to gain the upper hand over their peers. Murder is not as common within roden society except amongst the clan assassins, who must constantly prove their skills against the other killers within their nests. Only the best assassins (those that have slain their class’ rivals) are chosen to represent their clans abroad. Roden assassins are paid outrageous sums of money to perform their dark deeds, for their reputations are peerless. These hired killers are fairly common resources for the wealthy human nobility, but have collected payment from every race but the dwarves (even the most despicable dwarf refuses to support the “whiskered fiends”). Only the warlocks are more widely respected by the roden than the clan assassins, who are genuine celebrities within their own nests.
Roden nests are found almost anywhere, but the highest concentration of them lies beneath The Creator’s Grave. The roden’s proximity to the dwarves of that region has led to a historical clash between the two races. Indeed, it’s said amongst the dwarves that it was Vermin who betrayed and ultimately murdered the Creator soon after the god breathed life into the world.
For now, the dwarves occupy the most resource rich and hospitable tunnels and caverns within The Creator’s Grave, but it hasn’t always been so. The roden constantly plan and scheme to retake what they believe is rightfully theirs. Raids into dwarven territory are common but true war hasn’t erupted for an unprecedented thirty years. Many of the dwarven leaders suspect the roden are building their war machine, mustering forces and generally preparing for an assault that would rival any other in the two races’ bloody history. Others (mostly optimistic human diplomats) believe that roden society is changing and argue that it may be time to include them in world politics.
It is true that the roden have recently begun to send out traders and ambassadors into human and elven lands. Relations with these representatives have been pleasant and quite often favorable to those willing to overlook the roden’s vicious reputation. Of course, the dwarves believe this to be just another example of roden trickery and threaten embargoes on any human or elven settlement that deals openly with the rat-men.
The roden are enjoying an era of unrivaled respect for their skills in human lands. As the nobles of Endenmere vie for the crown that must surely fall from Roderick’s aging brow, unscrupulous arts such as poisonings, murders, blackmails, and thefts are increasingly common. Many of these nobles conceal the hiring of the roden by sponsoring diplomatic envoys from roden society. The roden take full advantage of these opportunities, both for profit and future gain. Indeed, as the roden’s numbers increase, their power grows.
Elves tend to be guarded and on edge when in the company of the roden. That being said, neither of the races have reason to be hostile to one another. The roden have made many offers to elven representatives to secure trade rights on high quality elven goods, but have thus far been refused. Again, the dwarves breathe whispers of warning into elvish ears, particularly when the roden seek to procure elven weapons and armor.
Orcs and roden have only recently begun to interact with each other. Relations are tense, as are all dealings with orcs, and change with each new tribe encountered. With the orcs having no nation to call their own, and very little to barter or trade, the roden see no reason to improve the situation.
- Ability Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength
- Size: Medium
- Special Rules:
Darkvision: Can see in the dark up to 60 feet
Rodent Empathy: Gain +4 racial bonus to Handle Animal checks against rodents
Swarming: If two roden are in adjacent squares and engaged with an enemy, they are considered to be flanking as if in opposite squares
Tinker: Gain +2 racial bonus to Craft (alchemy), Perception, and Use Magic Device checks
Languages: Begin speaking Roden and Common, high intelligence allows roden to choose to speak Dwarven, Elven and Orc