Zoogs
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Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos - Pathfinder
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Menacing inhabitants of the deep woods, zoogs are widely dreaded and sometimes mocked from a safe distance. Unlike many feared races, the superstitions and legends about zoogs are well-founded—they are not “misunderstood,” but are just as dangerous and unsettling as the tales tell. Small, animalistic creatures, zoogs lurk in shadowed forests and burrows, waiting for unwitting prey. Terrifying puppet masters, the zoogs flutter threats and taunts as they lure victims ever closer to their doom.

At the same time, much of a zoog’s capacity to evoke terror is situational and atmospheric. Beneath the benighted treetops, their small size and natural grace produce the sense that they could be anywhere, striking from any angle. Caught in the open or confronted outside their natural environment, they seem more like oversized rodents that are almost laughable. For this reason, zoogs stay out of sight, relying upon misdirection and confusion before they strike.

Most zoogs are content to dwell in their forest homelands, but they are curious beings, and are known to roam far abroad. Zoogs often accompany members of other races, hoping for protection. Occasionally, zoogs make a major foray into the outside world or decide to colonize another wood. Anyone who knows of zoogs and their ways would do well to treat news of harassment in the forest and unexplained disappearances as a cause for alarm.

History

Zoogs do not document their past and only keep records of current agreements and treaties—which are considered sacrosanct—nor do they share oral histories among their own people, as they have no interest in dwelling on what has gone before. For this reason, zoog “history” is often whatever the zoogs decide to tell a human they have chosen to trick or befriend.

Because of the zoogs’ secretive nature, people are often surprised to learn a colony of zoogs has been infesting a nearby forest for years, only learning of the threat they pose after an attack on a local hunter. Those living near the forest may know that something is happening, as stray animals or travelers keep vanishing, but they may not realize zoogs are behind such disappearances.

Zoogs tend to make their homes in dark and haunted forests, where they become masters of their environs. Often far worse creatures than zoogs dwell therein, and the zoogs learn caution near a lich fortress or a troll den. Larger and more powerful beings often ignore the small and comparatively weak zoogs, who can then take advantage of their proximity. For example, in a forest containing a dragon, the zoogs are adept at luring raiding parties of adventurers into the dragon’s lair.

Zoogs have a history of making direct pacts with monstrous creatures for mutual benefit, the way a crocodile might allow small birds to pick its teeth clean. Generally amoral and opportunistic, zoogs have no objections to working with evil monsters, but they also recognize the danger such creatures pose. In some cases, if a particularly dangerous creature moves in, the zoogs may seek the assistance of a party of adventurers to rid their forest of the risk, and will offer enticements for this service. This must be done before the zoogs forge a treaty with the monster, however, as zoogs always keep their word.

Playing a Zoog

Other races are both fascinated by and a little fearful of the curious and furtive zoogs. They have developed a reputation for mysterious powers, cunning, and their specific form of faithfulness.

If you’re a zoog, you likely:

  • see small animals (even pets or familiars) as potential food.
  • are attracted to creepy and uncanny places and things.
  • remember and honor your personal treaties and those that your forest has signed.
  • like to hide in dark corners and explore tunnels and burrows.
  • are curious, inventive, and cunning.
  • are extremely interested in traps, both magical and physical.
  • don’t share your secrets.

Others probably:

  • are nervous around you.
  • view you as a possible threat to children and small animals.
  • are interested in making a treaty with you.
  • are afraid you might lead them into a trap.
  • consider you to be wise in dark, unearthly lore.
  • are ignorant of your complex social structure.

Physiology

Zoogs are marsupials. Both males and females have two, small, forward-opening pouches on each side of their abdomen. Female pouches expand significantly when they house a litter of pouchlings.

The typical zoog is about the size of a small human child, yet their quadrupedal stance keeps them low to the ground. All four of their limbs terminate in handlike paws capable of fine work or wielding weapons.

In addition, they have long, bare, prehensile tails that give them even more options for manipulation. Their mouths have needle-like teeth, and their faces are adorned with small prehensile tentacles, which they primarily use to manipulate food but can also use to grasp small objects or help with delicate tinkering.

They have round, bulging eyes and large ears that grant senses as keen as those of a cat, if not keener. Though they are naturally nocturnal, they are not hampered in bright light. They can swim when they must and can climb as well as any monkey. While they can use tools and often keep useful objects in their burrows, they cannot easily carry more than two such items around with them at a time (one in each pouch).

Zoog voices are thin and breathless, most often described as “fluttering.” They cannot shout or make loud noises (except for an occasional frightened involuntary squeal), but they can pick up other languages and are fast learners. They speak their own language, which is only taught to outsiders who have signed a treaty with the forest. All zoogs, regardless of their forest, speak the same language, which is instinctive, not learned. Hence, even a zoog raised by humans will grow up able to speak its own tongue (as well as the language of those who raised it).

Zoogs are generally carnivores. While they are able to eat some fruits and vegetables (usually raw), prolonged reliance on plant matter tends to make them listless and sick. Fresh meat is always a treat, preferably eaten raw. They can eat dried or cooked meat when necessary. They enjoy all types of animal flesh and even eat humanoids when they get the opportunity. Large and/or intelligent prey must be ambushed and trapped, as zoog are at their best from positions of stealth.

Zoogs are able to produce a musk-like substance from glands on their heads, which they often smear on trees or rocks to leave a trail for others of their kind to follow. Some merchants sell “zoog musk,” which they claim can be used to confuse or distract zoogs and thus make it safer to move through a zoog forest. In truth, zoogs are rarely duped by such attempts at trickery.

Family

Zoogs normally live in hollow trees or burrows which they dig themselves or steal from other burrow-makers (such as foxes or badgers). They prefer dark and damp conditions. They typically dig a large network of tunnels with at least two concealed exits in addition to the main entrance for a quick escape at need. When zoogs show affection, they grab and caress their beloved or friend with their cold, clammy face tentacles. Humans generally find this quite unsettling, but those that become friends with a zoog learn to endure it as best they can.

Zoogs do not mate for life. Periodically, two zoog become infatuated. They then become obsessed with each other, engage in wooing and flirtatious activities, and try to spend time together. At any given time, a zoog is only interested in one other member of its species. Of course, sometimes the object of a zoog’s affection does not reciprocate, and then the heartbroken would-be lover licks their emotional wounds and retreats, only to fall in love with and obsess over a new zoog a few months later.

If two zoogs prove compatible and a she-zoog becomes pregnant, the pair moves into the same burrow, and the father helps to protect and feed the mother (and their babies) until their progeny have grown big enough to leave the family unit. This process typically takes a few years. Once the babies are on their own, the parents separate, dissolving their personal bond but maintaining emotional ties to their offspring. Within a year or two (or sometimes just a few months), the parents find new objects of affection and the cycle begins again.

It isn’t rare during the natural zoog mating cycle for zoogs to fall in love with the same partners more than once, but there is no social or biological imperative to do so.

Family Terminology

Zoogs can speak their own language as well as others, but use specific phrases and unusual concepts to describe family and the roles of other zoog in their society. Some examples are listed below.

Generation: Zoogs use this word to determine the ranking of a zoog in their society.

He-Zoog: A male zoog.

She-Zoog: A female zoog.

Zooglet: A young zoog, furred and capable of leaving its mother’s pouches.

Pouchling: An infant zoog, naked, blind, and helpless. Normally never leaves the pouch.

Chosen: An adjective used to describe those zoogs raised in their mother’s preferred pouch and thus generally considered superior to other zoogs.

Off-Pouch: An adjective used to describe zoogs raised in their mother’s less preferred pouch and thus generally considered inferior to other zoogs.

Life Cycle

Zoogs give birth to 6 to 12 (2d4+4) babies after a gestation period of only 10 to 15 days. The blind, nearly-embryonic young are only about a centimeter long, perfectly sized for the mother to pick them up and put them into her pouches. She puts the four best-looking or most interesting young into her favored pouch, and these become her chosen. This is often but not always the right-hand pouch; she-zoogs are “left-pouched” or “right-pouched”, just as humans are “right-handed” or “left-handed.” All the other young are placed into her less-preferred pouch, and become off-pouch. Each pouch normally has four internal nipples, so if five or more babies are off-pouch, only four survive—typically the strongest or fastest. The others starve within a day or two, and the mother cleans them out of the pouch and eats them.

The pouchlings stay attached to the mother’s nipples and don’t leave the pouch for 2 to 3 months. When they emerge, fully-furred and capable of life on their own, they are now called “zooglets.” They usually stay in or near the parental home until maturity.

Zoogs reach full size, intelligence, and sexual maturity in 2 to 4 years, depending on how well they’re fed. Once the young are completely independent, the parents move on as well. Zoogs can live for a long time—much longer than most small mammals.

Zoogs older than 30 to 40 years are forced to extend their longevity through magical potions, forest herbs, or spells. Zoogs with access to these age-defeating techniques can live for many decades, and zoogs over 300 years of age are found in the older forests.

Zoogs breed more quickly than almost any other sentient race. A typical zoog is ready to mate within a year after leaving home (so, from 3 to 5 years of age). It then has up to eight viable progeny, which it raises to maturity. When those babies leave home, the zoog is ready to mate again. This means that a typical zoog first mates around the age of 4, and then has almost exactly eight surviving offspring about every four years following this. This means that twenty pairs of breeding zoogs (a typical colonization group) can increase to 50,000 adult zoogs in only two decades.

Society

Each individual zoog forest is its own independent nation, responsible for its own treaties and decisions. Zoogs never go to war with other zoogs, and are bemused by the fact that other sentient races fight amongst themselves. Not engaging in such strife does not preclude them from taking advantage of it, however.

Zoog society and social importance are closely tied to their biology. Zoogs raised in their mother’s preferred pouch are the chosen, promoted and trusted as the upper tier of zoog society, while those raised in the inferior pouch are the off-pouch and are considered lower class. Because each pouch has four nipples, there are almost never more off-pouch than chosen and vice versa in a given zoog forest, notwithstanding death and infant mortality. The chosen vs. off-pouch hierarchy is the most fundamental differentiation within zoog society, and forms the basis of their system of nobility.

Off-pouch zoogs are still full members of zoog society. They are sources of valuable labor and services, and though they are never leaders, they are neither mistreated nor enslaved by other zoogs. They belong to a lower social class. Zoogs are puzzled when other races take offense to their system. After all, humans, elves, and dwarves have hereditary systems of government as well, often incorporating serfs, a middle-class, and nobility. The zoog system is far superior, they feel, because the chosen zoogs are hand-selected by the mother for superiority. After all, in many humanoid societies, nobility is inherited, regardless of merit or ability. Not so with the zoogs: an inferior baby is eaten by the mother or becomes an off-pouch.

When zoogs mate, it is common for an off-pouch zoog to become infatuated with a chosen zoog and vice versa, and offspring from such a mating are subdivided into off-pouch and chosen as normal. In other words, zoogs, unlike many other humanoids, do not segregate by social class when mating.

When two chosen zoogs mate, however, their own chosen young are termed second generation, and are considered upper-class. They are considered higher than the average chosen, but not true nobility. When two second generation zoogs mate, their chosen offspring are third generation. This process continues up to the eighth generation, and of course can go beyond, but the zoogs don’t always keep track past that point, particularly as eighth generation chosen zoogs are vanishingly rare.

Second-generation zoogs are considered the upper-ranks of society, but are not true nobles. Each successive generation is more highly rated. The zoogs feel this is fair and just. With the sixth-generation, it is clear that all ancestors of the zoogs were chosen as superior by their mothers.

If a higher-generation zoog mates with a lower-generation noble, the offspring are considered to be the same as if the lower-generation zoog had mated with its own kind. Thus, if a fifth and a second generation zoog mate, the chosen babies are considered third generation.

However, an off-pouch zoog born even to a sixth generation zoog is still just off-pouch. It has no generation and no special privileges, though it may enjoy advantages based on family ties. For example, a high-ranking zoog noble often has family guards and aides chosen from among off-pouch siblings.

Third generation and higher zoogs are the zoog nobility, and these individuals are not only rare but valued by zoog society for their superiority and leadership qualities. The higher the generation, the higher-ranking the zoog, so a third generation zoog defers to one from the fourth generation.

It sometimes seems odd to humans that zoogs make no attempt to preferentially mate higher generation zoog together, but the zoogs are happy with their system, and it seems to work for them. Another alien aspect of zoog culture is that despite the fact that they keep few records, they are somehow able to keep track of their generations.

Each zoog forest is run by a council of nobles, who consult one another to make all decisions. Zoogs don’t have monarchs or any sort of head zoog. Instead, the various nobles gather together when major decisions need to be made and do so as a group. Zoogs are not stupid, and the nobles are perfectly willing to take advice and suggestions from lesser zoogs—even offpouch zoogs.

Zoog forests are never true monarchies. For one thing, the highest-ranking zoogs in a forest are born in groups of four. In their councils, the higher-generation nobles speak with greater weight, but all voices are considered. Also, when noble zoogs feel a need for the guidance of other, lesser zoogs, they do not hesitate to call them to the council as participants. For example, if a lower ranked zoog had traveled for a long period of time with a group of captured adventurers, that zoog would be interrogated at the council, and his testimony may well determine the fate of those adventurers. When less-sweeping plans are needed, a single noble may lead a group of zoogs in some major task—for example, constructing a large trap designed to capture a large animal.

Zoogs also have an equivalent to human guilds, in which all like-minded zoogs within a forest share wisdom or work on large projects. Typical zoog guilds include trap-makers, magical researchers, alchemists (a generic term for all tinkerers), loremasters, and animal tamers. Unlike human guilds, these are always led and ruled by one or more noble zoogs and advised by the rest. The nobles are not necessarily the most experienced workers in the trade, but they do receive training and are always willing to listen to other, more skilled zoogs. Young nobles are assigned as apprentices to the various guilds so that they can learn the trade and be ready to take positions of leadership.

Venturing Outside the Wood

The natural zoog habitat is dark, deep woods. Often, when zoogs wish to colonize a new region, they must travel through the outside world, which is a dangerous proposition. Sometimes, they try to avoid trouble by moving only at night. Other times, they bargain with fey to gain access to their strange magic or mysterious portals. Occasionally, zoogs make a treaty with groups whose lands they must travel through, offering to gift their hosts with magic or unusual forest herbs in exchange for protection.

Protection deals can lead to interesting adventures for players, who may be tasked by their kingdom or their friends to travel with the zoog host and keep them safe from enemies and ambushes. Herding along a large mob of small, ferocious zoogs while wolves, trolls, or other natural foes try to pick off some of the troop could be a fun travel scenario. Hazards might include bandits hoping to kidnap a zoog noble or a family, bitter about past zoog predations, lusting for vengeance.

Warfare

While zoogs are known to go into battle, these excursions would not be considered a “war” by human standards. Instead, the zoogs treat their attacks as an extension of their clever tricks, and usually try to encapsulate the whole conflict within a single huge ambush or trap. Hence, a typical zoog war lasts only a day or two and ends in a complete victory for one side or the other: either the zoog ambush works or it doesn’t.

Zoogs are highly protective of their high-ranking nobles because they take so many generations to produce, so their wars are almost always triggered by the death (accidental or otherwise) of a noble zoog or zooglet.

Zoogs recover populations decimated in war more quickly than other sentient races, thanks to their fast breeding cycle. As a result, they are not particularly deterred by the threat of losses—except with regard to their nobles.

Faith

Zoogs are not very religious. They recognize the existence of gods and demons, but are only interested in them as potential sources of power or as threats. They are always, at their core, pragmatists in any kind of religious devotion, though they are able to parrot belief in order to comfort or fool humans or other races. Zoog clerics exist, but they are largely focused on appeasement. Druids exist to draw strength and power from their forests. When a zoog forest hosts a perilous and powerful spiritual entity, the zoogs typically build a shrine and appoint a priestly class to placate this force. These priests perform whatever sacrifices and rites are needed to minimize conflict.

For example, zoogs living in a forest at the base of a powerful red dragon’s mountain might set up a shrine to the dragon and kidnap maidens from surrounding hamlets that they might offer them up to the dragon to prevent the creature from attacking their forest. While humans, naturally enough, see this activity as evil, the zoogs view it as highly practical. They don’t have the ability to slay the dragon, so they do what they can, at minimal cost to their community, to avoid trouble.

As a result, zoogs have gathered a reputation for worshiping evil and unholy beings. This reputation is deserved to an extent: benign forces don’t threaten the zoogs, so they don’t feel a need to appease them in this way. But even zoogs who worship at the shrine of a powerful devil are not necessarily evil themselves— they do so out of pragmatism rather than fervor.

Treaties

One of the best-known features of zoog law is their universal recognition of treaties. A given treaty is only made with one entity or organization at a time. A treaty may be agreed between the forest and a nation, race, or village, or even just a single person. If two villages each want a treaty with the zoogs, they must negotiate separately. While treaties can cover a wide number of topics, typically the arrangement is for the zoogs to permit free passage through their forest in exchange for some consideration from the other party.

Treaties can be predatory in nature. For example, when the cats of Ulthar attacked and defeated the zoogs of the Enchanted Woods, they took a number of noble zoog youths as hostages. Those zoogs agreed never again to molest or eat a cat, and in turn, the cats agreed to keep their hostages alive. Unfortunately for the zoogs, this treaty was not to their advantage, but such is reality. Naturally, if the tables were turned, the zoogs would have enforced a treaty to their own ends. When a treaty is being considered, the zoog council of nobles debates it. If they reach a favorable decision, the other party is brought into the zoog colony, and all the zoogs convene to identify and learn to recognize that individual or group. For example, when the zoogs of Blackwood made the Treaty of Eternal Friendship with the gnomes of Willendilly, the gnomes sent several dozen gnomes, of all ages and walks of life, to Blackwood so the zoogs could memorize the appearance and dress of Willendilly, and thus refrain from preying on them. This treaty was eventually broken unwittingly by the zoogs when they captured and devoured three bleached gnomes from Willendilly, unaware that these pale, listless creatures were the same species as the other gnomes (since no bleached had been sent to the treaty-signing).

Treaties are not written down (at least, not by the zoogs), since every zoog in the forest is required to memorize it. Still, an old treaty may be unknown to younger zoogs, and over time, treaties can “wear off.” This can happen quite quickly, considering the condensed breeding cycle of zoogs.

Zoogs rarely break treaties on purpose, but they are known to abuse them to an extreme. In one case, the zoogs of the Screaming Woods had a treaty with a particular family. The oldest son of this family took a band of his friends into the deepest part of the forest, expecting that the zoogs would honor the family treaty, and thus grant them safe passage. The zoogs trapped them all, then served them at a great feast. The son alone was spared, but they forced him to partake in the feast. When they sent him home, he was physically uninjured, but stark raving mad. Since they had not killed him, the zoogs considered that they had fulfilled their obligations to the letter.

While a given treaty only applies to a particular zoog forest, if someone who participates in such a treaty can demonstrate this to another zoog forest, it often eases their path toward acceptance and safety. Once a village or person signs a treaty with one zoog community, other zoogs often fall into line quickly and easily.

Personal Treaties

Even as a single person can make a treaty with the zoogs, a single zoog can make a treaty with a humanoid or group of humanoids. This is typically how an audacious zoog manages to join a group of adventurers, so when playing a zoog, be sure to write up the terms of the treaty. Some common elements in such a treaty might include:

  • the zoog will not eat party members.
  • the zoog will not eat pets or familiars belonging to the party.
  • the zoog will assist the party in diplomatic negotiations with other zoogs.

Culture

Zoogs are able to tame and domesticate other forest-dwelling animals. For example, they often train badgers to dig tunnels, foxes or owls to serve as an early-warning system, or pine martens as hunting animals.

Some of these could be animal companions. With their carnivorous tendencies, there is always a chance that the zoogs might eat their “pets” in a time of emergency. Zoogs do not have their own written language, but can learn to read and write the languages of other races. They are particularly interested in magical or occult languages, which give power. They are not nearly as interested in works of fiction or mundane knowledge.

Zoogs rarely engage in artistic enterprises, though they do practice magic and the creation of magic items. They create tools and can even perform metalworking, though heavy blacksmithing jobs are beyond them. They often prefer to purchase items created by the labor of other races. Their supple hands, dexterous face tentacles, and inherent intelligence allow them to produce utensils of amazing delicacy and unparalleled grace.

Since their size renders them largely incapable of heavy building projects, zoogs prefer to adapt existing structures or natural formations to their own uses.

Thus, rather than chop down a tree for lumber, they might hollow out its limbs and add peepholes, grow magical fruits from it, or direct its growth so its roots emerge aboveground and tangle with other nearby trees to form a nearly-impenetrable barrier. This is not out of any inherent “love of nature” or druidic tendencies, but simply because these adjustments are easier for the small but clever zoogs to accomplish, rather than the large, crude manufacturing of other races.

Tricks and Traps

Because zoogs are ambush predators who hunt in teams and because they are so small, they typically use snares, ruses, and deceptions to catch prey or defeat enemies. They are keenly interested in related devices, and an entire zoog profession is made up of trap-makers, usually organized into a guild.

Zoog forests frequently have extremely elaborate traps that incorporate magical, physical, psychological, and living components. Sometimes these traps are built in a series. One set of traps might be designed to terrify or herd victims into a particular spot where other, deadlier traps await.

Zoogs know that humans are suspicious of their forests and wary of traps. As a result, zoogs usually lay multi-layer traps to maximize efficacy and lethality. People experienced with zoogs eventually learn to anticipate their technique, so zoogs—aware of the human ability to reason—are always ready to escalate their traps to double or triple bluff hapless intruders.

They think several steps ahead of their potential victims, leading them sometimes to overthink their traps, as they expect trespassers’ minds to be as devious and byzantine as their own. For instance, when outsiders encounter a zoog trap in a forest, it might not be real. But it could be real, after all, because the zoogs know they’ll think it’s not real, so they make it real. And even if someone evades that trap, the real peril awaits once they lower their guard.

Some examples of favored zoog schemes are described below.

The Gem Trick

The Trick: Just barely visible off the main forest path is a collection of glittering gems, which shine and glow in the dark. The main road has a dark and spooky covered bridge over a gulch.

The Trap: The adventurers—who are, naturally, wise to zoog tricks—ignore the gems, and proceed confidently onto the bridge, happy to have avoided the too-obvious snare. The bridge is hinged at one end, and the other side is blocked. When the adventurers get a little ways onto it, it breaks loose on the opposite side, falls over, and points straight down. The adventurers plummet to the bottom, unable to grasp any handholds on the slimy walls. At this point, gigantic spiders from the woods crawl onto the bridge from above and descend upon the party.

The Finale: The zoogs reset the bridge, and, once the spiders have sucked the adventurers dry, fish out the remains, scavenge any useful gear, and use the dried-up flesh as “adventurer jerky.”

The Treasure Map

The Trick: The adventurers come across the withered corpses of another adventuring party. A treasure map is clutched in one skeletal claw. The deceased party still has its gear and even some magic items, so obviously this is a real case of death by misadventure—the bodies weren’t even looted.

The Trap: The adventurers follow the map to an awful underground cavern complex full of perilous hazards and monsters, and many are killed.

The Finale: The zoogs drag out the newly-dead corpses from the caverns, perhaps eat one or two of the victims, scavenge the most useful magic items, and “re-seed” the trap with the new cadavers, placing the treasure map in the hands of one of the deceased party members. They also make sure that the magic items they leave as bait are not useful in their cavern complex. For example, if the complex contains undead, they might leave a wand of charm person, since that spell is ineffective against undead. The trap is particularly cruel in the way it instills a false sense of security.

The Rotten Log

The Trick: In an especially creepy and dense part of the forest, filled with fluttering zoogs, the trail is blocked by a huge rotten log. Upon close inspection, the log is filled with poisonous spiders.

The Trap: All the adventurers have to do to avoid the spiders is to leap gracefully over the log, so they do. Unfortunately, the log’s actual purpose is to conceal the deep pit just behind it. The leaping adventures fall right into the hole, which is also filled with poison spiders, spikes, or whatever the zoogs’ inventive imagination came up with. Sleep poison is particularly useful, as the first adventurer who falls into the pit may not be able to warn those coming second.

The Finale: Usually, only one adventurer jumps into the pit, but the others are likely to get bitten by the spiders while they try to rescue their comrade. Eventually, the poisoned, weakened party is vulnerable to other traps and tricks down the line. Though the trap is designed to weaken rather than slay, unlucky or unwary parties might even suffer losses from it.

Relations

Fundamentally, zoogs are pack ambush predators, and have no cultural or biological bias against eating sentient beings. Because of this, they are often feared and avoided. On the other hand, they are not relentlessly hostile, and have useful lore, magic, and artifacts, so their hard-won friendship can be quite valuable. Folk who live near zoog woods naturally avoid the trees, and sometimes even try to erect fences against the forest. Such efforts don’t keep the zoogs away, but they at least render it less likely that an animal or a child will wander by mistake into zoog territory.

No other civilized race is allowed to live as a group within a zoog wood. Zoogs do not typically “share” their forest with a tribe of elves, though a single dryad or perhaps a family of half-orcs might be tolerated, particularly if they are beneficial to the zoogs. If it is a large forest, sometimes part of the area is the zoog wood, and the rest might be owned or dominated by some other group.

Adventurers

Zoogs are curious and inventive and they value practical knowledge, so it’s not uncommon for zoogs to venture outside their woods in search of this. When this happens, the zoogs, being small and physically weak, tend to join a party of the big people. Given their size, even some gnomes and halflings are big by zoog standards.

Zoogs can prove highly useful members of an adventuring party. Their delicate hands render them excellent magicians and rogues, and the ancient lore they have access to can help the party to find places to explore.

A secondary bonus for the party is that zoogs cannot use large items or treasures, so typically they don’t compete for some of the more interesting loot (they can’t carry a magic greatsword, for instance). On the other hand, they often want to sequester smaller items, such as wands or magic rings. They feel this is a reasonable compromise, though others may disagree.


Zoog Racial Traits

Zoog characters do not possess racial Hit Dice. They are defined by their class levels. Zoogs are humanoids with the zoog subtype, and must breathe, eat, and sleep.

-2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence: Zoogs are swift, agile, and quick-witted but not particularly strong.

Small: Zoogs are Small creatures, and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a -1 penalty on combat maneuver checks and to their CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.

Fast: Zoogs are fast for their size, and have a base speed of 30 feet.

Climbers: Zoogs have a climb speed of 30 feet, and a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks.

Senses: In addition to darkvision with a range of 60 feet, zoogs have low-light vision and the scent ability. Zoogs have a +4 racial bonus on Perception checks.

Skills: Zoogs have a +2 bonus to Disable Device checks in addition to their bonus from trap mastery, and Stealth is always considered a class skill for them.

Facial Tentacles: Zoogs’ facial tentacles cannot wield weapons, but they can hold or manipulate small objects like coins, jewelry, or even wands.

Prehensile Tail: A zoog’s prehensile tail cannot wield a weapon or manipulate an object, but can carry an object with ease. A zoog can retrieve an item stowed in one of its pouches with its tail as a free action or pick up an adjacent item as a swift action, provided the object is relatively small (no more than 3 lbs.).

Pouch: A zoog can carry a tiny object like a piece of jewelry or a coin in each of its two pouches. Retrieving an item from a pouch is a swift action, or a free action if the zoog’s tail is used.

Natural Attack: Zoog’s bites are primary natural attacks that deal 1d3 points of damage. They also gain a secondary claw attack that deals 1d3 points of damage.

Trap Mastery: Zoogs gain a +2 racial bonus on all Craft (traps) checks, as well as on all Disable Device and Perception checks made to disable or notice traps (this racial bonus stacks with the standard +4 racial bonus zoogs possess on Perception checks). Zoogs gain a +2 dodge bonus to their AC against traps and a +2 insight bonus on any saving throw they make against the effects of a trap.

Warren Digger (Ex): Zoogs have a burrow speed of 10 feet, but can only burrow through soil and dirt, not stone.


Ruin Guardian (Zoog Wizard Archetype)

In the Enchanted Wood of Earth’s Dreamlands, a massive stone covered with two sets of runes and a thick layer of moss lies in a fungus-choked grove. A three-foot-wide iron ring is set in the middle of this stone, implying that the slab is something akin to a lid. The region is feared and avoided by the zoogs, who (rightfully) claim that the stone covers an entrance to the sinister Underworld. Despite this fear, there are those among them who understand the ruin’s import. Someone took pains to hide something away, and while they may be gone, their ruins remain. Certain zoog wizards take it upon themselves to serve as guardians for this site—and for any other mysterious ruin that may lie within or adjacent to zoog lands. These wizards are unusual among their kind in that they value history and legacies, and focus their magical studies with a singular goal—to protect the site from intrusions. Whether the site is one sacred to zoogs or one they fear, the need to guard it remains.

Ruin Bond (Ex): Instead of choosing a familiar or object as an arcane bond, a ruin guardian selects a ruin to bond with. This ruin must be something constructed and abandoned at least 50 years before the wizard was born, and can be something as minor as a stone or statue or as extensive as an entire abandoned city or necropolis. In the latter case, the ruin guardian must select one location in the ruin as the focus of his bond. As long as the ruin guardian is within 1 mile per character level of this focus, the wizard gains a bonus equal to his Intelligence modifier to all Perception and Sense Motive checks. The wizard can cast spells with ease anywhere, but if he casts spells within 1 mile per wizard level of his bonded ruin, he gains a +4 bonus on all caster level checks (including concentration checks).

A ruin guardian instinctively knows if any creature damages his bonded ruin, or if any creature removes treasure or valuables from the ruin. He doesn’t know the identity of the creature or where in the ruin the event occurred, but can sense the disruption even across planar boundaries.

A ruin guardian never suffers a chance for failure when he teleports into his bonded ruin. While bonded to a ruin, a ruin guardian must perform a special ritual to switch to a different ruin. This ritual takes 8 hours to complete and costs 200 gp per wizard level.

This ability replaces arcane bond.

Alertness (Ex): A ruin guardian gains Alertness as a bonus feat.

This ability replaces Scribe Scroll.

Defensive Aura (Sp): Once per day as a swift action, a ruin guardian within range of his bonded ruin can expend a prepared spell to gain an insight bonus to his Armor Class and on all saving throws equal to 1 + half the level of the spell sacrificed. This bonus lasts for 10 minutes per wizard level, or until the ruin guardian moves outside of the radius of his ruin bond.

This ability replaces one arcane school ability the wizard normally gains at 1st level.

Ruin Link (Su): At 5th level, a ruin guardian can choose to create a link to a ruin other than his bonded ruins. He can inscribe a series of runes upon the ruins to establish a link between his bonded ruin and the new ruins, despite any distance between the two ruins. Inscribing the runes to link the ruins takes 1 hour and requires the expenditure of 100 gp in rare inks. Once established, the ruin guardian treats an area in a 1 mile radius around the runes as part of his bonded ruin. A ruin guardian can maintain a number of ruin links equal to his Intelligence modifier; if he creates a ruin link in excess of this number, a link of his choice fades.

This ability replaces the bonus feat the wizard normally gains at 5th level.


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