So I've been working with some folks to try to do an Indian setting right. As an Indian person, even as far removed from my cultural heritage as I am, I have always found much of the representation to be...not great. An Indian setting should not be Kali-ma and Ganesha in Fantasylands, because generally you don't get Jesus Christ in Fantasylands because that's a bit insulting. You generally get a "One True God" wherein you can make commentary on the religions at play without directly insulting or disrespecting them. And India, is of course, much more than its religions. It is a beautiful land of many cultures and clans, amalgamated and accommodated to create a unique place that's worthy of proper research and representation in the gaming sphere.
I'm going to try to do that, in a setting called The Monsoon Ghats, and I am sure that I will also fail on some level; but from the bones of it someone better than myself might be able to do an even better job. I acknowledge that given how utterly colonized I am, I cannot be the true Scotsman some folks might want me to be in regards to representation; but I'm willing to put in the efforts and to try. Making an Elephant race-as-class is sort of its own kettle of fish, but I was inspired because the party I'm playtesting with work for a Crocodile; so I figured I ought to make a class for the rival city-state.
The basic rulings for The Monsoon Ghats are based in Ben Milton's Knave, White Box S&W, and some stuff from the Black Hack that I'm not opposed to. It does have classes, which grant a Hit Dice, as well as abilities and drawbacks. No saving throws beyond ones base Attributes. Usage dice come into play for item quality.
It works pretty well. I'm playtesting it on my weekends.
What follows is a race-as-class, the Naga-Malla, a reincarnated elephant warrior who hold a vaunted place in the modern society of the Ghats, and who adventure to help scour evil from the land. You could even use this in Yoon-Suin, for an interesting ruler of one of the Hundred Kingdoms.
The Naga-Malla, (The Fighting Elephant)
Prime Requisite Attributes: Constitution & Wisdom of 14+
Starting Karma: 55 + 2d10
[If using another system, the Naga-Malla saves as a Cleric and Advances as a Dwarf]
The Lord of the Universe ignited the twin suns of soul and life, and from their crackling heat the earth was given solidity. As the illusory world of promise and sin began to solidify at the dawn of creation, the sounding of the primal thrum, “Om” rang out into the cosmos. It brought comfort to the Lord of the Universe, it expanded out like ripples upon the sheer surface of a pond.
From the first of the earth, he created beings to carry the sound. Unburdened by his virtues or his doubts, he created the elephant, as stewards of the land, wise enough to be kind, wiser still to be cautious. As time progressed, as the world fell into flux and disarray, as truth and falsehood warred for wounds and for the right of dominion over the world; the elephants stood on the side of the primal truth of an unsullied sound. When river dragons and their falsehoods came to be known as the catalyst for such great suffering, some elephants took up arms.
These were the Naga-Malla, and to this day their breed exists above all others, for their nobility and righteousness. Fewer in number than in times past, they nonetheless carry great respect where it is they tread; and many a mannish house will placate them in hopes of receiving boon or blessing. You are the reincarnated soul of previous Naga-Malla, come once again to ensure the world is held only by the righteous.
Arms & Armor - The Naga-Malla, due to being an elephant, is limited in what arms and armor it may wear. It naturally possesses an Armor Class equivalent to Hides, though it may instead choose to go Skyclad if properly anointed and painted for it. Armor for a Naga-Malla must be specifically crafted by artisans, and many armors for war elephants are too crass and vulgar to suit a Naga-Malla. In regards to weaponry, the Naga-Malla can wield any weapon it desires to in its trunk, though it possesses natural weaponry and might be better off not using man-crafted arms at all.
Natural Weapons: The trunk of a Naga-Malla deals d8 damage, its trample deals 2d4, and its tusks deal d8. When used against creatures of significantly vile alignment (Impure, Wicked, or Vile), the damage dice are increased by a degree.
Elephantine - You are an elephant, large and cumbersome, but blessed with divine grace. You may always know, psychically, the general compass directions due to your connection with the earth. You have four legs, tusks, and a trunk; you may trample things, gore things, or strangle things. Your trunk is your only true manipulator limb, and it acts with amazing dexterity.
Spellcasting - The Naga-Malla has the capacity to cast spells from the Earth, Heavens, and Fate domains. They know a number of spells equal to their Level + Wisdom Modifier. They may learn spells from other temples, provided they spend at least one month’s time there or perform a great service for said temple.
My Skin, the Rumbling Earth - The Naga-Malla are proficient in Earth Magic, and may cast spells from this domain as though they were a level higher. Additionally, Naga-Malla possess a tremor-sense that extends out from them in a 30’ aura. If a Naga-Malla meditates or otherwise remains motionless, they can sense the presence of impure or wicked souls.
Remover of Obstacles - The Naga-Malla are blessed by the Lord of the Universe as masters of tribulations and the removal thereof. The Naga-Malla gain advantage on all saves meant to remove barriers, unlock or lock items, break through doors, or to secure a location. You may shrink your form to one the size of a mule, and suffer no disadvantage due to your size or weight when bypassing obstacles (such as walking a narrow precipice, or fitting through a cramped corridor.)
Speaker of the First Thrumming Sound - The Naga-Malla came into being with the first thrumming sounds of existence. The Lord of the Universe, having blessed them with the origin of all sound, granted them the capacity to communicate with all natural things. The Naga-Malla speak through a thrumming psionic voice which radiates out from behind their eyes and the center of their brow; it sounds as it should sound. They can speak any language in the Monsoon Ghats this way, and can communicate gentle commands to animals of lesser intelligence.
Enemy of Serpents - During the Wounding War, the Naga-Malla gained their title when they struck out at the River Dragons for their dark whispers and mistruths. The Naga-Malla retains this bias towards all serpent-kind, regardless of how many cycles of reincarnation they have fallen through. When confronted with serpents, river dragons, naga, or other sorts of makara, the Naga-Malla must make a morale check or fall into a berserk rage against the creature; shouting condemnations from on high.
Sacred Dharma - The Naga-Malla suffers terrible sickness of self if their actions directly lead to the harm of innocents or those of good karma. If a Naga-Malla suffers a loss of alignment, they suffer Disadvantage until they have made a pilgrimage to the closest shrine and sought out an act to atone for their sins. If a Naga-Malla ever falls into Impure or lower alignment, their tusks begin to burn at their mouth, causing them to speak only lies as they suffer from necrosis of the mouth.
Ignorance of the Illusory - The Naga-Malla exist so firmly as a truth that they have a hard time parsing through the illusory elements of the world. The written word is an utter riddle to them, the study of which perplexes them to the point of headaches. They tend to take men at their word, and for spiritual entities, assume only the concept they’re based around to be truth with no conditions to be applied. Thus to a Naga-Malla, all raksha are wicked and all vanara are good; and any action to the otherwise simply does not make any sense.
- The Mountain Peak
- The Lotus of the Caves
- The Churner of the Seas
- The Knower Under the Mountains
- The Long Marcher
- The Herald of the Sound Primeval
- The Lord of Elephants
- The Breaker of Naga
- The Drinker of Skies
- The Pillar of Strength
- The Opener of Ways
- Of Great War-Wisdom
- The Noose of the Vile
- The Inheritor
- The Mighty
- The River Lord
- The Temple’s Might
- The Herald of Great Truth
- The Stone Made Shattered
- The First of their Name
Appearance Randomizer (Hide)
- Rough hide of charcoal greys, as though coated in ash.
- Mottled hide of light browns and reds.
- Supple hide of black, like a starless sky.
- Soft hide, muddy grey; as though slathered in river clay.
- Reddish hide like teakwood, covered in small fuzzy hairs.
- Rough hide of white, smooth as bone to the touch.
- Leathery hide of blue, as if bathed in cerulean as a babe.
- Pink hide, with white hairs; like a peach.
- Tough leathery hide of black, like wood after a forest fire.
- Grey and ruddy hide, like that of an elephant unburdened by its dharma.
Appearance Randomizer (Tusks)
- Two tusks, of ivory white, which splay out as if to greet the world.
- Two tusks, of bone yellow and unequal size, one has seen wounds the other has inflicted them.
- Three tusks, of pearlescent white, two wrapped over one another like embracing vines, the other curved outward to give them privacy.
- A single tusk, stained in blood and mottled with pits. The other tusk was lost, and it is felt freshly like a phantom limb.
- Two tusks, carved short and tipped in gold. Marks of nobility and station.
- Two tusks, long and ancient, they almost drag upon the ground with the weight of their age.
- Four tusks, two on each side, bitter and vicious bones. They pierce and rip with the fury of a crocodile or a young bull in musth.
- Two tusks, one discolored by the foul magics of a witchburner man who sought your tusk for profane rites.
- Two tusks, carved in the visage of serpents, banded in the leathers of those you’ve slain.
- A single tusk, cut to half length. In place of a missing tusk, a prosthetic of hateful metal which causes discomfort on a cold night but allows you to feel whole.
Mark of Reincarnation
- Depigmentation around your face and eyes displays celestial events from times immemorial. At night they sparkle like stars in the heavens.
- Those who stare too deeply into your eyes hear the thrumming of the primal sound in the back of their minds.
- The tip of your trunk displays patterns of shimmering gold when you use it to manipulate things.
- You were born with scars from an ancestral soul’s conflict with the River Dragons.
- Egrets which land upon your back take the color of celestial peafowl.
- One of your eyes glows brightly like your inner sun, the other is mournful in its hopes like a midnight’s moon.
- Your flesh is deeply grooved with edifices of triumph and spells known by distant ancestors.
- The trumpeting of your trunk can play sweet melodies.
- The dust at your feet when you walk takes up beautiful colors that suit your mood.
- You have a full body of wooly hair, like that of a saddhu, marking you as a most ancient soul.