New Race: Zoocefali (Beast-People)


The animal people of Tirenia seem to be one of the most popular parts of the setting! With the rules that already exist, it's possible to play as a number of different animal people. Existing races can also be re-themed as animal people. However, this race is intended as a 'catch-all' so that players can create any sort of animal-headed PC!

Zoocefali means 'Animal-Headed', and is the word used to refer to the diverse human/beast hybrid people found throughout Tirenia and the rest of the world. Individual races of zoocefali are common where the original animal occurs - in Tirenia, the most common races are bat-, bear-, bird-, boar-, cat-, cow-, deer-, dog-, ermine-, fox-, frog-, goat-, horse-, lizard-, mouse-, rabbit-, rat-, sheep-, snake-, and wolf-headed people.

The word 'zoocefali' refers to all animal-headed people: individuals are called 'cinocefali' for dog headed people, 'ailurocefali' for cat-headed people, 'musocefali' for rat- or mouse-headed people, 'ornithocefali' for bird-headed people, and so forth. These names are mostly used by scholars: cat-headed people are more likely to call themselves  'cat-person', a 'cat-folk', or just a 'cat.' Zoocefali are subject to prejudice: they are considered less intelligent than humans, and there are lots of stereotypes about them: for example, bear-people are characterized as lazy, violent and hungry. Many beast-people have lower-paying jobs such as manual labour or joining the military.

You can use existing D&D races for some zoocefali (tabaxi are ailurocefali/cat-folk), and reskin other races to represent others (half-orcs make excellent orsocefali/bear-folk, and halflings are good musocefali/mouse-folk). Alternatively, you can use the following generic race to represent them. This race has a lot of toolbox options to represent a range of animal people. Players should select options that match their character concept.

Ability Score Increases: Increase one of your ability scores by +2, and a second  by +1. Zoocefali often share the superior Strength, Dexterity or Wisdom of their animal relatives. The stereotype of their bestial stupidity is no more than prejudice: there are extremely intelligent raven-folk, and elephant-folk are reputed to never forget anything.
Age: Zoocefali inherit the superior life-span of their human relatives. They reach maturity in their late teens, and generally live to under a century.
Alignment: Despite stereotypes of selfish cats or loyal dogs, zoocefali have the same spread of alignments as humans: they can have any moral outlook on life. That said, many find their beliefs influenced by the expectations placed on them by society: Lawful Good cinocefali and Chaotic Neutral ailurocefali are common, for example.
Size: There is a considerable difference in size between the diminutive musocefali (mouse-folk) and the massive orsocefali (bear-folk). However, the variations are all from the human average, and therefore all zoocefali are Medium sized.
Speed: Your walking speed is 30 feet. Many zoocefali are faster or have different types of movement speed, but this is covered by their optional abilities.
Natural Weapons: All zoocefali have superior natural weapons to humans. These may be claws, teeth, horns, or hooves: the player should specify what form they take. They do 1d4 unarmed damage (plus Strength modifier) and may be Bludgeoning, Piercing or Slashing, depending on the animal.
Darkvision: Not all zoocefali have darkvision, but the majority do, and those that do not often have other senses that they can rely upon in the darkness. Zoocefali have (or have the equivalent of) Darkvision to a range of 60 feet.
Natural Talent: Zoocefali receive training in two different skills, representing their natural animal talents, from the following list: Acrobatics, Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, Performance, Stealth or Survival. For example, cinocefali (dog-folk) often have training in Athletics and Perception, while musocefali (mouse-folk) generally have training in Stealth and Survival.
Wild Empathy: All zoocefali are considered to be proficient in the Animal Handling skill and can use twice their usual proficiency bonus, instead of their normal proficiency bonus, when interacting with their own types of animals. For example, an ofidiocefali (snake-person) can add twice their proficiency bonus to Animal Handling skills involving snakes.
Special Talent: Every zoocefali race is unique. Choose one of the following powers from the list below:

  • Cunning Stealth: Some zoocefali are known for their cunning, which they can use to either evade or engage their enemies. You can make a Stealth check as a bonus action.
  • Enhanced Attack (Knock Prone): Some zoocefali use their size to knock their enemies over. When you hit a creature with your natural weapon attack, that creature must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Strength modifier + your proficiency bonus. After you use this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
  • Enhanced Attack (Venom): When you hit a creature with your natural weapon attack, that creature must make a Constitution saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. The creature takes 2d6 additional poison damage, or half that on a successful save. This damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level. After you use this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
  • Enhanced Jump: The powerful legs of some zoocefali allow them to jump further and stronger than humans. Your jump distance is double that of normal. In addition, attacks of opportunity have disadvantage against you while you are jumping.
  • Enhanced Movement: Some zoocefali are able to move in ways that humans cannot. You gain a Climb, Fly or Swim speed of 20 feet. 
  • Enhanced Natural Defences: Some animals have scaly or otherwise tough hides. When you aren't wearing armour, your natural AC is 13 + your Dexterity bonus. You can use your natural armour to determine your AC if the armour your wear would leave you with a lower AC. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armour.
  • Enhanced Speed: Some zoocefali are especially swift. Your walking speed increases to 35 feet.
  • Enhanced Teamwork: Some zoocefali are especially skilled at working as part of a group. When you use the Help action, you can use a Bonus Action to Help again - thus allowing you to Help two different allies in a single turn.

Image: Cynocephalus Saint Christopher. Anonymous, c. 17th Century.

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