This is hands down the chapter that has taken the most time and I am most invested in to get right. Ever since the Humanoids Handbook during 2ED, I have been wanting to run a saurial-centric campaign. Tomb of Annihilation though presents the perfect opportunity to introduce these odd, silent protagonists to 5E. How did I do? Is it balanced? Let me know in the comments. I also included a few feats…
A few have heard tell of a race of reptilian, strangely civilized, bipedal creatures from another place and time. Seldom leaving their secluded home, these saurials resemble the great beasts that once dominated the land. Walking on two feet rather than four, they are quiet and good-natured, cultivating the land and building villages in peace with it. With voices that are pitched too high for most to hear and communicating primarily by scent, saurials let their actions speak for them.
Reptilian and Varied
Although often mistaken for dragonborn or lizardfolk, saurials includes a number of sub-species that each has their own unique anatomy, temperament, and outlook. Appearing much like anthropomorphic dinosaurs, all saurials share a roughly humanoid shape, but with hips that are slightly rotated forward that gives them a slightly forward leaning posture. A long tail that is half the length of the individual’s height balances out this peculiar stance. Each subrace bears resemblance to a particular dinosaur species and are named for the physical traits that define them.
Even among the same subrace, saurials exhibit a vast amount of variety. The tough scales that cover their bodies generally range from dull brown to deep green to bright yellow and all shades in between. A hatchling born with sheer white scales is rare but not unheard of, which carries no stigma. Saurials are often marked with colorful stripes or spots and will some times embellish themselves with decorative body paint that serves not only an aesthetic purpose but enhances their scent cues as well.
SIDE BAR: Sanctuary of the Lost Vale
Those travelling across the Anauroch Desert sometimes catch a glimpse of a lush, primordial land as a hazy mirage on the eastern horizon. Once known as Tarkhaldale, the Lost Vale appears on Toril at the base of the Desertmouth Moutains. The dimensional upheaval caused by the Sundering displaced the Lost Vale in a space between worlds and locked in time for the past one hundred years. Prehistoric beasts and strange megafauna make visitors to this place feel that it is a realm that time forgot.
To the saurials, this is not only a home but also a refuge from the outside world. Enslaved and brought to Toril by Moander to devastate the land that would fuel the deity’s rebirth, the saurials stayed in the Realms at the behest of Elminster to undo what they wrought after his defeat. When the City of Shade returned to re-establish their empire, the saurials once again found themselves pursued by dark powers. It was thought that they were scattered and their numbers decimated when the shadow of the Netheril fell over the Lost Vale. Instead, the Lost Vale was spirited away by the efforts of stalwart defenders and allies.
In an act of desperation, the warrior Alias sacrificed herself by destroying an ancient artifact meant to safeguard the Lost Vale’s borders, causing it to be locked somewhere between Toril and the saurials’ native Material Plane. The Lost Vale now only appears on Toril when certain during certain times of the year or when conditions are met, which are known only those deemed trustworthy.
SIDE BAR: The Saurials in Chult
The saurials have no established history in the land of Chult. However, the presence of dinosaurs throughout the peninsula have led many sages to speculate that there may be a connection between its jungles and the home plane of the saurials, known as the Homeworld. With the recent upheaval caused by the separation of Abeir and Toril during the Sundering, a residual rift in the planes has caused for some saurials to appear in Chult. These individuals appear at random, often times just as confused as to their new surroundings as those that are there to witness their appearance.
Saurials speak a dialect of Draconic. However, their voices are pitched too high for all but dragons and fey to hear. They also further emphasize their speech with scents that they exude. To even those fluent in Draconic, the language of the saurials is bizarre and nearly impossible to replicate. A few notable scents have been identified that represent a specific emotion that is commonly understood by all saurials. Saurials can learn to speak “deep tongues,” but only through significant time and effort, and many rely on spells or magic to communicate more clearly with outsiders.
|SAURIAL SCENT CUES|
|Cooking ham||Nervousness or worry|
|Lemons||Pleasure or joy|
|Violets||Danger or fear|
|Wood smoke||Devotion or piety|
Civilized And Curious
Saurials live in small pastoral villages consisting of egg-shaped single-family stone buildings. Each member of the village takes up a trade for which they are particularly suited, such as masonry, farming, weaving, or blacksmithing. Although they often cover themselves in the modesty of robes or loincloths, they quickly adopt the fashion of those around them while traveling among those other than their own kind. This is not always possible, as not all saurials can easily fit into a pair of -trousers.
Despite a history of enslavement, saurials are extremely curious of the outside world. This is especially true for young saurials, who undertake such journeys before settling down with a lifelong mate. Although their society leans more towards isolation, the elders of the tribe encourage this exploration, as they often return with insights or resources from the outside world. As they originate from an alternate Material Plane, they are open-minded and often just trying to make sense of their surroundings.
Unintentional Extradimensional Adventurers
Saurials are known to appear in the strangest places and at the oddest times, whether through some planar mishap or some other twist of fate. Though incapable of communication with most other races, saurials are not timid and eagerly seek out new experiences despite their strangeness. Rather than immediately attempting to find a way home, most saurials embrace their and open-minded, they often quickly find companionship among adventurers who are accustomed to keeping strange company.
With much of their language being a combination of scents and high-pitched sounds, saurial names do not translate well into other languages. Most saurials receive a given name by their companions that reflect a notable physical trait or deed.
Given Names: Bravebill, Brokenhorn, Griffonmeat, Ghostscale, Nailtail, Redcrest, Scalyshield, Silverbell, Tailtwitch, Quickwing.
- Age. Saurial hatchlings are fully-grown at age 5 but mentally mature at the same rate as humans. They live on average up to 350 years.
- Alignment. Saurials are friendly and good-natured but generally keep to themselves. They prefer to be left in peace and do not interject themselves in the affairs of others.
- Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
- Cold Torpor. You have disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws against cold damage and cold environment effects.
- Natural Armor. You are covered in protective scales. Your AC is 13 + your Dexterity modifier while not wearing armor or when wearing armor but your natural armor is better. You can also add your shield bonus to your natural armor AC.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Draconic. Unlike other races that speak Draconic, you speak a dialect with high-pitched accents and emphasizes that are based on scent that all but native speakers are unable to replicate (see sidebar). You can understand, read, write, but can’t speak Common.
Bladebacks are trusting and honest, and are the most sociable among the saurials. They are slow to anger and exercise caution over action, viewing understanding and a well-calculated response as more valuable than haste. Bladebacks stand as tall as half-orcs and resemble bipedal stegosauruses, with two rows of bony plates that run along its back that end in a long and spiked tail.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2 and your Charisma score increases by 1.
- Size. Bladebacks stand between 7 and 8 feet tall and can weigh anywhere between 290 and 370 pounds. Your size is Medium.
- Tail Whip. You can use your reaction to trip a Large or smaller opponent, rather than making an opportunity attack. You make a melee attack and if you hit, the target is knocked prone. In addition, you can make unarmed attacks with the spikes at the end of your tail. You are proficient with these unarmed strikes, which deal 1d6 piercing damage on a hit.
Vigilant and passionate, finheads like to be active and to work with their hands, traits that their natural vigor makes them well suited. Most believe in absolutes, chafe at ambiguity, and absolutely disdain deceit. Whereas bladebacks are the most gregarious, the enthusiasm and drive of finheads makes them the most likely type of saurial that most outsiders encounter. Finheads are stocky and slightly shorter than humans, with a single crest that adorns their heads like that of a hadrosaurid.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 1.
- Size. Finheads are shorter and stockier than humans, standing 5 to 5-1/2 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
- Claws. Your hands end in tough and sharp nails, which you can use to make unarmed attacks. You are proficient with these unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.
- Active and Alert: You have proficiency in the Athletics and Perception skill.
Flyers are the smallest of the saurials. Noisy and nervous, most other non-saurials find them loud and irritating. They enjoy gossip and are keenly interested in knowing the intimate details of others. Flyers have pterodactyl-like features, with a long beak filled with needle-sharp teeth. Their slight frames feature large, underarm flaps and a long third digit that extends from their hands that form wings. They typically fold this finger back when not in flight to more properly use their surprisingly dexterous hands.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Strength score is reduced by 2.
- Size. Flyers stand between 3 to 4 feet tall and weigh anywhere around 42 to 52 pounds. Your size is Small.
- Bite. You have razor-sharp teeth, which you can use to make unarmed attacks. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 piercing damage on a hit.
- Clumsy Flight. You have a flying speed of 40 feet. To fly, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor and must have nothing in your hands. You can’t Dodge while flying and ranged attacks have advantage against you if you do not move during your turn while flying.
Hornheads are the tallest of their kind and are so named because of their resemblance to triceratops, complete with forward facing horns and a thick, bony frill. Hornheads are deliberate and rationale, making them natural planners, engineers, and scholars. Their tremendous size allows them to excel at physical feats as well, but are ponderous in their movements.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, your Intelligence score increases by 1, and your Dexterity score is reduced by 2.
- Size. Hornheads are between 7 and 8 feet tall and weigh between 280 and 340 pounds. Your size is Medium.
- Horns. You have forward-facing horns, which you can use to make unarmed attacks. You are proficient with these unarmed strikes, which deal 1d6 piercing damage on a hit.
- Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
- Cantrip. You know one cantrip of your choice from the wizard spell list. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it.
- Inquisitive: You have proficiency in the Investigation skill.
Prerequisite: Saurial (flyer)
- Increase your Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- While flying, you can Dodge and hover without granting advantage to attackers.
- Increase your Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
- Increase your Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- While not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 15 + your Dexterity modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.