Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vulture Harpies: A Culture

The Vulch
In the desert of salt and pillars, there is a tribe of people with dark wings. They are bald of hair, the men and women alike, and have long and curved necks. They are pacifists, and do not kill or cause harm to others, no, not even then. They die before they kill. There is a reason there are so few of them left.

They watch others kill, though. From afar, without interfering, no, not even like that. And when the killing is done and the killers move on, they descend on their great black wings and honor the dead by eating them, and by talking to the bones so they are not forgotten.

They commonly become Acrobats, Thieves, and Occultists. They are sacred in Saresare and Yuba and have another name there, and are granted abandoned places and things and permitted to flitter through the streets. But their sacredness is tied to their pitiable natures and status as an underclass, and a vulch who becomes wealthy and well-known makes people uncomfortable. That said, there are always deviants from culture, and these wig-wearing merchants, necromancers, snipers, or whatever are ironically encountered more often than 'typical' vulch by outsiders.

Flying- Vulches can fly if they are thin and unencumbered and unarmored, and as poor scavengers, Vulches are always thin and unencumbered and unarmored.
Fragile Frame- They have but 7 inventory slots (or STR-3 slots)
Strong Stomach- Rotten food never poisons or diseases Vulches. They can even digest monstrous oozes.

A- Creed of the Scavenger, Ugly Duckling
B- Lullaby For The Dead,
C- Seance Song
D- Death's Favorite

Creed of the Scavenger-
So long as a Vulch has never intentionally brought harm or death to another living being, they get +1 Magic Die per Vulch or Wizard template. Nothing can make them break this oath save their own decision- if they would be caused to break the oath against their will, they recover, shaking off their rage or any fell mind control they may be under. But once broken, their power is lost forever.

Furthermore, they only take what no-one else has a use for. They are awful to shop for. They wear only thrown out clothes, roost only in abandoned ruins, and so on. They do not steal, though they also do not think the dead have any right to their grave-goods. Violating this precept only removes bonus magic dice until they return to subsiding wholly on scavenged room and board for a full week.

Finally, those of the Scavenger way are very resistant to suffering. They require only 1/3 the food of a human, and do not lose encumbrance or inventory slots to Damp, Cold, or Fatigue, and their mood remains constant no matter how hungry and disheveled they may become.

Ugly Duckling
Gain Beggar as a skill, +1 per Vulch template.
Even healthy Vulches look like miserable, starving, filthy wretches and are known for their freakish behavior. This makes it hard for them to inspire any emotions in most folk besides pity or disgust. Though some nurturing types can't help but throw some aid their way, people mostly pretend they aren't there if they aren't actively supposed to be paying attention to them and the Vulch stays quiet. Treat as social stealth that backfires into social persecution sometimes.

Lullaby For the Dead
Gain Music as a skill, with +1 per Vulch Template.
Vulches hum as they eat corpses. Corpses hummed to by a vulch never come back as undead, and their spirits are lain to rest. Undead that are hummed to by a vulch must save or succumb to the following effects.
Vulch Templates
1- The undead pauses so long as it is hummed to, and after, it must make a save to continue attacking, otherwise it wanders off, having lost any murderous intent for now.
2- The undead saves or goes dormant, awakening only if disturbed. Otherwise, as 1.
3- As 2, but the Vulch may eat the dormant undead without disturbing it.
4- As 2, but the undead's spirit goes to its final destination and the body becomes a lifeless corpse.

Seánce Song
By singing to a corpse, specifically the skull, a Vulch can call the spirit of that corpse to them and ask them 1 question per Vulch template. Whether the spirit shows up or not depends on how great the Vulch's music is, how the spirit feels about Vulches in general and in particular this one, and whether the spirit is currently burning in hellfire or trapped in a magic mirror or something. In the latter case, spirits almost always accept an invitation to escape their torment/imprisonment and answer hastily and truthfully to continue their escape.

Death's Favorite
No psychopomps come to collect the soul of a Vulch. They are free to roam as spirits through the worlds, or take over corpses abandoned by the original owners. Outsider spirits like demons and angels that obstruct a wandering Vulch spirit do so at the peril of annoying Death for the Vulch are one of the very few beings that do not add to Death's busy schedule, and as such the Vulch enjoy a small bit of favoritism from that supposedly impartial arbiter of all mortals.
A vulch who is this close with Death will not draw the favor of gods or demons, however.


  1. I think I've finally read backwards through everything you have here on Sunset Realms and now I'm sad there's not more. I like your setting.

  2. Such lovely creatures and such a flavorful concept. I might steal some bits and pieces for a class concept based on shadows, the veil and the whispering things beyond.