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The Phanatons of Jibarú
The thickly forested land of Jibarú is home to the monkey-like phanatons. These small, furred humanoids live along the Savage Coast, especially the territory around Jibarú, and protect the wilds they inhabit.
Phanatons have long inhabited the Savage Coast and other areas, but only within the last few centuries have they achieved any measure of civilisation-gathering into tribes, using tools, and so forth. The phanatons of Jibarú have formed a tribal confederation, developed religion and art, started using tools, and made initial steps toward a system of laws.
Appearance: Phanatons are furred humanoids about three feet tall. Looking very much like monkeys, phanatons have slender bodies, humanoid hands, dexterous toes, and four-foot-long prehensile tails strong enough to support their body weight. Membranes of skin stretch from arm to leg, and are used to glide. The creatures' fur has markings like those of a raccoon: brownish grey fur with a black "mask" around the eyes and a ringed tail. Phanatons have eyes of bright green, fiery red, or shiny yellow. They almost never wear clothing, but might wear jewellery of wooden beads.
Personality: These spiritual folk have a great love of nature. Though normally peaceful, they strive to protect their forest homes and can fight well when pressed.
Phanatons lead a relatively harsh existence, so they tend to be rather serious. Still, they take joy from life; not jokers or boisterous carousers, they have a quiet sense of humour. Phanatons are cautious and not prone to panic, nor are they easily awed by shows of power.
They tend to be good or neutral and are rarely evil. Most are independent, so chaotic alignments are more common among them than lawful ones.
Lifestyle: Phanatons are settled hunter-gatherers. They live in small tribal villages, groups of family huts on platforms high in the trees. Each village has a chief who meets periodically with other chiefs to discuss policy. Because the village of Itucuá is the oldest and largest in the land of Jibarú, its chief is considered first among equals; he settles disputes among other chiefs.
Being careful not to deplete their supply, phanatons gather fruits and roots from the area around their villages. They have made only minor attempts at agriculture, sometimes guarding a favoured tree or planting a small vegetable patch. They trap more often than they hunt, with fish and small birds their most common source of meat, and giant spiders a favoured delicacy.
Gathering food is the most common task of phanatons, but religion, learning, and a few crafts are also vital parts of phanaton culture. Most phanatons tend to do things for themselves and their families, but they do cooperate on such major projects as building and village defence.
The family is very important to phanatons, and two or three generations often share the same living quarters. Elders are greatly respected, and the young are cared for and taught by the whole family.
They have their own language. In addition to human-type sounds, the language uses hoots, chatters, and clicks.
Phanatons are wary of most other races, because their forests have often been harmed by them. The exception are the wallaras, whom the phanatons generally like. They tend to distrust wizards and Herathians of any race as Herath has an aggressive policy against phanatons-for no reason the forest-dwellers can fathom. Once past initial reactions, phanatons generally like elves, especially those from Robrenn, but dislike gurrash; all are dealt with as individuals.
Equipment: Phanatons do not make metal weapons, preferring wood and stone. Though they are technologically primitive, phanatons are not awed by technology; they may be unfamiliar with some of its aspects but are willing to learn about it, if unwilling to use it.
Phanatons as PCs
Phanatons can glide, usually from branch to branch, due to the loose skin between their arms and legs. The distance a phanaton can glide is equal to three times its starting height. For example, if a phanaton jumped from a height of 30', it could glide over a horizontal distance of 90 feet maximum (at the rate of 50 feet per round). When gliding, a phanaton must spread its arms and legs to catch the air; it cannot fight, cast spells requiring somatic components, or do anything requiring two hands. For every 100 cns of weight they carry, phanatons reduce their horizontal gliding range by 20 feet for the same loss of altitude as an unencumbered phanaton.
At 3rd level, phanatons can fly-that is, maintain level flight or gain altitude-but only if updrafts or normal winds are present. They can gain 10 feet of altitude for every 60 feet of horizontal distance covered in normal winds. A strong breeze reduces the horizontal distance needed to 30 feet. Phanatons do not fly during high or extreme winds-they are too easily tossed into trees or other obstructions.
Phanatons gain the magical ability to pass plant, like the fifth-level priest spell, at 7th level. This ability is useable once a day.
Miscellaneous: Phanatons are not good swimmers, preferring their arboreal habitat. They do not have infravision. The more common, primitive (non-sentient) breeds of phanatons are normally clumsy with their hands. When fighting, they are likely to drop objects (coconuts, branches) on their attackers, bite them (1d6 points of damage), or use simple weapons (branches, stone maces, or other blunt objects).
Phanatons of Jibarú have learned to use small spears, short bows, and blowguns with needles dipped in a paralysing poison (save vs. poison or remain paralysed for 1d6 turns). Shields and armour are rarely used since they negate the phanatons' ability to glide. All phanatons are naturally agile (PC phanatons must have a Dexterity of 16 or better to qualify). Their natural AC is 9, with a +2 bonus to their AC and to all saving throws due to their small size and agility. Racial modifiers to their game statistics: All phanatons receive an initial -2 penalty to Strength and a -1 to Intelligence. All but Shamans receive a +2 bonus to Dexterity. Shamans receive a +1 to Dexterity and Wisdom. They can have an 18 Charisma, but this is only between phanatons, elves, treants, and dryads. Charisma is penalised by -1 when dealing with other humanoids, and by -2 when dealing with humans and demihumans other than elves. Phanatons and araneans have a relative Charisma of 3 when dealing with each other.
Names & Language: Tapurú, Uruá, Maragú, Araca, Ixaitubá, Tuacá, Uapagú, Cucuí, Jarapuá, Gujarí, Ixugú, Garanuí, Axauá, Purucuí, Palamá, Tapajú, Uruxú, Itupaxingú, Macapuí, Irigí... The Jibarú language does not have the "e" and "o" sounds. Thus, the phanatons refer to themselves as Phanatu, or the people. "X" is pronounced "sh" and the last vowel in the name is accentuated. Double names are a sign of nobility, as shown in the names of the two queens mentioned later.
The spoken language is still primitive, requiring many gestures. The written language requires an extensive library of symbols representing animals whose sounds come close to the desired syllables. Ideograms conveying ideas complete other written symbols available to Jibarú shamans. Common phanatons rarely learn to read or write, though monarchs and chiefs usually acquire the skill.
Character Classes/Kits: Phanatons may be fighters, rangers, wizards, thieves, priests, druids or psionicists (if psionics are allowed). All phanaton wizards are mages; they may not be specialist wizards. Phanatons may be one of the following multiclass combinations: Fighter/Thief, Ranger/Priest, or Fighter/Psionicist. Multiclassed characters may take one kit that is allowed to them, though Fighter/Psionicists always take the Fighter kits, never the Wokan. Rarely, phanatons may become Inheritors. Warrior phanatons may opt for the Defender or the Savage kit; their mages may choose to be Savage wizards or Wokani. Filcher and Scout are the only kits available to phanaton thieves. Phanaton priests are called Shamans.
Those rare phanatons raised outside the homeland may choose from among the following kits: Local Hero, Spy, Swashbuckler, Honourbound, Myrmidon, Mystic, and Fighting-Monk. However, they gain little initial respect in the Swashbuckler profession.
Compared to the ancient araneans of Herath, phanatons are newcomers among the civilised races. In their early years, phanatons were forest predators that fed on large insects, lizards, and small mammals. Immortals gave them a natural agility that made the phanatons well suited to hunting dangerous creatures like poisonous snakes, scorpions, and spiders. Among these, the latter were by far the most common prey in the region.
At first, phanatons were viewed as a nuisance by other races. In their early years, phanatons hunted common spiders, and occasionally giant ones. Araneans used the latter as servants, thus the spider-folk's annoyance. It was fashionable then for affluent araneans to capture and tame young phanatons as pets. No araneans in their right minds would otherwise venture deep into the northwestern end of the Orc's Head Peninsula since the region was notorious for being infested with these pesky creatures.
Over the centuries, phanatons grew smarter. They had been a race on the brink of becoming fully sentient. Perhaps the habit of captured phanatons to mimic their aranean masters accelerated the natural progress of their evolution. At the heart of Jibarú, there arose a new breed of phanatons who organized a society and eventually took over the region.
They improved at spider hunting, thanks to their natural agility, but also due to new hunting methods involving bait, nets, and missile weapons. They learned to make blowguns to shoot needles dipped in a paralysing poison made from giant spider venom. Although many spiders still dwell in the region, there are far fewer of them today. Eventually, phanatons began raising giant spiders in captivity, like cattle. In order to renew their stock, phanatons made occasional forays into Herath, whose forests were famed for their plump, juicy giant spiders.
Some unwitting araneans were caught in their natural form and taken back to Jibarú. Amazed phanatons later discovered "humans" among their catches, and not knowing what to do with them-certainly, they would not eat them!-released them. Phanatons came to believe these spiders to be the souls of very evil beings. A prevailing suspicion among the phanatons is that the people of Herath harbour evil spirits among them.
Survivors of the phanaton hunts returned to Herath, bringing tales of "ferocious and intelligent phanaton hordes bent on devouring the nation!" Herath dispatched a heavily armed force to probe the region beyond the Forbidden Highlands. Soon they ran into a large phanaton war band. Surrounded by what they primarily viewed as dangerous predators, Herathian officers (araneans) panicked and ordered an immediate attack. The Herathians were slaughtered almost to the last, mostly because of the phanatons' blowguns. Several more Herathian "crusades" took place over the following decades with the same horrifying results.
After what had happened with the wallaras of Wallara, Herathian wizards were reluctant to use overwhelming magic to destroy the phanaton clans. Their expeditionary armies being systematically eradicated, they finally decided to reinforce their defences along the Forbidden Highlands. Meanwhile, occasional phanaton raids into Herath still took place, mostly to acquire venom for their blowguns. Some hunting parties were wiped out. Others got through. These successful hunters instituted a new policy of beheading captured humans-especially officers and nobles, and thus araneans-and shrinking their heads as war trophies. Despite the fact that phanatons developed a taste for fruit, vegetables, nuts, and even fish since their primitive origins, thus lessening their demand for spiders as food, the two races have maintained a virulent hatred of each other.
The phanatons have gotten along fairly well with the wallaras of Wallara, especially since they discovered their common fear of the Herathians. Today the two races trade with one another. For their part, phanatons barter garish piranha-bird feathers, woven spider silk, and pottery to the wallaras. Also traded are the occasional goods of human manufacture, either stolen from Herath or traded from a Texeiran outpost lying at the edge of The Horn, a sandy peninsula north of Jibarú near the Trident Isles.
Phanatons have sensed the difference between Herathians and the colonists of The Horn, but a relative distrust still prevails. Trade with Texeiran colonists takes place but rarely and then only when the latter sail up the Jururú and Xingá rivers. Sometimes too, a handful of escaped convicts from the penal colony situated at the tip of The Horn seeks refuge among the Jibarú. If anything goes wrong during such encounters, human visitors from either place are likely to end up with shrunken heads as well. Rare tree resins, cocoa beans, vanilla, healing mosses, and silver lure the colonists to sail up the dangerous, piranha-infested rivers.
Soon after they had organized their first society, Jibarú phanatons multiplied rapidly. They established many more "clans," usually centred around single villages of no more than 300 individuals. Rivalries and frictions grew amongst the clans until their first clan war took place. The death toll was heavy. Fearing an attack from Herath while they were thus weakened, Shamans arranged a truce during which the clan chiefs chose the greatest war-chief as their king.
The monarch had little to do on a day-to-day basis, but when the nation was endangered, the king could summon the Council of Clans at his capital, the City of Itucuá. The clan chiefs usually voted on major issues-the king counting for a full third of the total votes at the council. If the king had more than half the votes, his wish would be respected, else, the clan chiefs would go on deliberating until a solution was found. If a war took place, the king commanded all war hordes of the Jibarú.
Monarchy among the Jibarú phanatons is hereditary. Within the past decades, a small group of "nobility" (as medieval humans would conceive them) has grown from the ranks of Shamans, clan chiefs, and minor war chiefs. There is no social difference between males and females among the Jibarú, age alone being the way of sorting out who in a family inherits a king's or a clan leader's position.
The phanatons of Jibarú protect the great forests that compose the bulk of their nation. They live in harmony with nature and do not tolerate any exploitation. Though they might kill those who steal the resources of their land (particularly those who attempt to ravage the acres of prime hardwoods), the phanatons usually try to scare such folk away first by playing non-lethal tricks on them or ruining their equipment. Those too greedy or foolish to heed these warnings, however, might find their heads adorning a phanaton spear.
The Land of Jibarú
Capital: Itucuá (Pop. 1,250 phanatons)
Ruler: Queen Barana-Uí (Orchid-Soul), daughter of Queen Ujiri-Xuú (Forest Whisper).
Immortal patron: Uí.
Flora and Fauna
Jibarú lies inland, to the south of Trident Bay. Its eastern border abuts Wallara; to the south it edges the Forbidden Highlands and the kingdom of Nimmur, and to the west, its lofty forests are halted by desolate unclaimed territories.
In the northernmost area, the land is quite similar to that of Wallara. No phanatons make their homes here, though a few hunting bands stalk the kangaroo and emu that wander in from Wallara as well as their native boars and roe deer. They trap chipmunks, rabbits and small birds. Foxes, squirrels, badgers and small wild cats share scrub areas with lizards, butterflies, bees, colourful orioles, woodpeckers, red birds, crows, and owls. Smooth snakes and insect-eating bats appear at night.
The portions of this area fed by the Xingá and Jururú Rivers form wetlands that are home to frogs, turtles, and otters. Ducks, grebes, kingfishers, and reed warblers all make their homes in the reeds along the rivers' banks. Perch, sticklebacks, and piranhas live in the rivers, and dragonflies, mosquitoes, and gnats buzz above the waters. Green, yellow, and brown reeds line the riverbanks, broken by grassy embankments and the few hemlock and weeping willow trees that lean out over the water. Hunters often come to the wetlands to provide variety to their catch.
Most of Jibarú is covered by forest of various types of trees. The mixture includes the more arid varieties found along the border with Wallara, the many types of deciduous trees that comprise the bulk of the country's forested area, and others that tolerate the higher elevations near the Forbidden Highlands. Unlike its neighbour to the east, Jibarú is well-watered, with the Xingá River in the eastern portion of the land, and the piranha-infested Jururú River in the west.
At ground level, the forest is strewn with old leaves and sticks, debris left over from previous falls. This carpet of dry tinder makes it doubly difficult to move silently at ground level. Scattered through this carpet, ferns, flowering bushes, and creepers take advantage of the dappled sunlight that pours down through the branches. Game trails crisscross the area giving evidence of the small bears, porcupines, wolves, and deer found within. Raccoons, squirrels, and birds of all sorts live side by side with the larger animals. Streams and rocky rivulets cut through forest, developing into deep pools, trickling down rock faces, and occasionally pouring down from elevated heights as thin, sparkling waterfalls. Because of the heavy tree cover, rain is frequent and early morning ground mists are quite common. Though it is not hot enough to be tropical, the area is a temperate rainforest.
Mimosa, redbud, dogwood, magnolia, crab apple, and flowering cherry all provide colour, along with the low, shrubby rhododendron. Nuts can be gathered from the hickory, pecan, and black walnut trees, while fig, apple, cherry, and the occasional plum and peach trees provide abundant fruit. In the hills near the Forbidden Highlands, evergreens such as spruce, pine, and fir mingle with the deciduous trees, although the forest itself is less dense in that area. Dozens of varieties makeup the bulk of Jibarú's forest. White birch, oak, beech, ash, alder, and maple are found in profusion, with the mighty oaks serving as "home" trees for phanaton villages more often than not.
Phanaton villages and outposts dot the landscape, though little evidence of them exists at ground level. The small tribal villages consist of groups of family huts built on platforms high in the trees. Phanaton druids persuade the trees to intertwine their limbs so as to provide support for the platforms and huts and train the leaves to help shield sight of the villages from prying eyes. Vine bridges strung among the branches give access from one area to another, though the phanatons' gliding ability makes use of them more as a matter of taste or convenience than necessity. Consequently, many are not repaired regularly. In any case, heavier beings should only trust their weight to the largest of these flimsy crossways.
The City of Itucuá
Itucuá, the capital of Jibarú, is situated in a huge grove of giant oak trees in a bend of the Xingá River. Hundreds of platforms on several different levels are connected by a network of vine bridges and swinging vines. Most platforms have vines or rope ladders that can be dropped to lower levels or to the ground at need. Many of the sturdy wooden platforms hold large huts, though some appear to be mere way-stations among the bridges.
Some are single huts, housing only one phanaton. Many are large huts capable of supporting whole families. Usually the larger huts among the latter are those of the original family. The smaller ones are for sons or daughters and their spouses and children. Many are guest quarters. A few serve as schoolrooms where younger phanatons can learn various crafts and skills. Though families are very close-knit, all the adult phanatons of a village take some interest in and responsibility for teaching the children and seeing to it that they get in no trouble and come to no harm.
Phanatons come and go in dizzying groups walking, gliding, sliding, and climbing among the levels of the city. As one group leaves on patrol, another arrives fresh from a successful hunt. Even some of the busy spider-breeding pens are visible in Itucuá and form a sort of suburb on the eastern side of the city. There, dozens of large and giant spiders are kept as breeding stock and poison reserves. They are well cared for and spared from becoming the main dish (except on certain high feast days). Phanaton children are taught quite early how to feed and care for the spiders. Over time, they learn spider-wrangling, and may eventually be included in raiding parties into Herath in search of new breeding stock.
The "palace" is notably larger than any other platform, once it can be spotted (a difficult proposition at ground level due to its camouflage). Both the platform and the interconnected huts comprising the palace have been constructed of variegated wood and stained with various colours to blend in with the natural foliage of the giant oak. An ingenious series of vines with wooden buckets has been installed in various parts of the city so that clean water may be hauled up from streams below or harvested as drippings from the giant leaves.
The Phanaton Pantheon
Uí (also called Ordana): Uí is head of the pantheon. She commands the forces of nature. The patroness of the forest and protector of its people, Uí is the one who gave the phanatons the spark of intelligence so they could avoid total subjugation by Herath. Uí despises Korotiku's spider folk, and loathes what they did to the neighbouring wallara followers of her friend, Calitha Starbrow.
Mother Earth (Marau-Ixuí) (also known as Terra): Mother Earth is the patroness of birth, life and death, the cycle of years and seasons, earth and fertility. She created the primitive phanatons as natural predators to balance the aranean threat on the Savage Coast. Mother Earth is a friend of the Star Dragon and sympathises with the neighbouring wallaras. Shamans of Uí or Mother Earth usually support good relations with the Wallara tribes.
The Huntsman (Uatumá) (also called Zirchev): The Huntsman is patron of the hunt, but he is also of the patron of bravery, charm, and success among the clan. The Huntsman is a friend of Uí. He guides the hunting parties and the war bands during times of crisis.