Kara-Tur (Forgotten Realms)

Shan Sao


Shan Sao
Climate/Terrain:Tropical, subtropical, and temperate hills and forests
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Average (8-10)
Alignment:Chaotic neutral
No. Appearing:3-30
Armor Class:4
Movement:6,Fl 15
Hit Dice:2 to 4
THAC0:2 HD: 19
3 HD: 17
4 HD: 17
No. of Attacks:1
Damage/Attack:By weapon type
Special Attacks:Disease
Special Defenses:Summon tigers, immune to fear
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:T (1’ tall)
Morale:Steady (11)
XP Value:2 HD: 120
3HD: 175
4 HD: 270

The shan sao are a race of tiny humanoids who live in woodland hills. Fearless and private, they have little contact with the outside world.

Shan sao stand about 1 foot tall, and resemble humans with squat, plump bodies. Their skin is deep orange or dark brown. Unruly mops of brown or blonde hair tumble about their shoulders. They have broad noses, slightly pointed ears, and oversized feline eyes, which are green, blue, or golden. Males and females alike wear long cotton smocks, which are gathered at the waist with rope. Their clothes are clean but poorly made; the smocks often hang over their feet and drag along the ground.

Shan sao speak their own tongue, the trade language, and that of the animal court, including the language of tigers.

Combat: Though small, shan sao are accomplished fighters, quick to take offense and equally quick to return it. They are apt to pursue fleeing enemies rather than permit their escape. Shan sao have no tolerance for trespassers or disturbances of any kind; loud noises especially annoy them, particularly the sound of bursting bamboo. All shan sao are immune to all types of fear.

An average shan sao force is armed as follows: short swords (60%), darts (25%), and uchi-ne (15%). Once per day, they can cause disease; to use this ability, they need merely to point at any victim within 10 feet.

Three times per day, shan sao can polymorph into the shape of a bird. (Note the flying speed above.) They usually assume the forms of crows, ravens, or other common birds native to the immediate area. Once per day, they can summon 1-3 tigers within a half-mile radius, provided tigers are in this area. These tigers arrive in 1-6 turns. The animals fight for the shan sao and can understand the humanoids desires and needs. The tigers remain with the shan sao for up to a full day, although they will leave earlier if no longer needed.

A few shan sao (5%) may cast the spells of a wu jen. The shan sao’s Hit Dice equal its spellcasting level. For example, a shan sao with 3 Hit Dice has the spellcasting ability of a 3rd-level wu jen. Typical spells in this humanoids arsenal include fiery eyes, hail of stone, magic missile, ventriloquism, ESP, fog cloud, pyrotechnics, stinking cloud, hold person, and suggestion. All shan sao are immune to all types of fear.

Habitat/Society: Shan sao dwell in the hearts of thick bamboo groves. They live in simple, thatched houses, centered around a communal cooking pot. A settlement comprises 3-30 (3d10) males, and half as many females. The number of children equals 25% of the total number of adults. Some settlements (10%) are guarded by 1-2 tigers, which share the humanoids’ lair.

A shan sao force encountered away from its settlement is always male. Responsibilities of hunting and defense fall mainly on the males, but females will fight to the death to defend their homes. Females have 1 Hit Die, but otherwise their abilities equal those of males.

One adult male serves as king, with absolute authority over his settlement. Once a year, the shan sao summon their tiger allies and discuss the king’s accomplishments during the previous twelve months. If the tigers agree that the king has performed adequately, the king will continue his leadership for another year. If the tigers feel the king’s performance has been less than satisfactory, they will nominate a new member of the tribe to take his place. Shan sao always accept the tigers’ recommendations. If the tigers nominate a new king, the old king graciously steps down.

Ecology: Shan sao can eat just about any type of fruit, vegetable, and grain, but they prefer the special stew that brews continually in their communal cooking pot. The stew includes a variety of herbs, spices, fruits, and meats. It has a distinctive aroma, combining the strong odors of onions, cherries, and cinnamon. In spite of its unusual smell, it is delicious and nourishing. One ladle of the stew will fortify a human for a full day. Wealthy gourmets with a taste for exotic foods have been known to pay as much as 1,000 ch’ien for a flask of shan sao stew.

Last Modified: February 20, 2014, 23:27:01 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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