Thaele are a mysterious race who first appeared shortly after the Fall. They radiate an unsettling aura that literally makes other races uneasy in their presence, but they are favored for their skill as healers. A people without a true home, the thaele wander Mournra, desperately hiding their terrible secret and searching constantly for answers to lore queries that confound even the wisest, eldest elves, in hopes of finding a cure for the curse that afflicts them.
Thaele anxiously guard the secret of their nature; if it ever became common knowledge, they would likely face extinction. After the Time of Destruction, the thaele were cursed. Who cursed them, and why, is long forgotten; what concerns them now is survival (keeping the secret) and finding a cure. Their curse forces them to be nomadic and guarding its secret means thaele rarely, if ever, become close with those who don’t share their affliction.
The curse of the thaele has perverted the race, forcing them to prey on other creatures to survive. Thaele radiate an unsettling, life-draining aura and can only gain sustenance by consuming the blood of other living things—such as rodents, forest creatures, or intelligent beings, but not other thaele. Drinking the blood of a living creature at least once a day, for at least one round per drink, provides all the nourishment a thaele needs. Thaele auras do not give their owners direct sustenance but can (over sufficient time in close proximity) allow them to incapacitate a potential victim so they can be easily bled. Any non-thaele who comes into close contact with a thaele soon feels tired and weak; over time, they may even fall unconscious or die. Unfortunately, thaele do not know how to control this power. Despite many attempts, no one has yet developed even a temporary cure—magical, herbal, or otherwise—for the curse. Worse, their need to imbibe blood and their involuntary, life-draining power horrifies most thaele.
Yet the thaele have discovered a fortunate sideeffect of their affliction: they can cure diseases of the blood in other creatures (and so are valued throughout Castlemourn as healers). To do so, a thaele literally sucks out some tainted blood, cleansing the afflicted creature in the process. Typically, thaele claim they can only “work their magical healing” in utter darkness and so insist on absolute privacy, that their patient be masked, and that the place they’re sucking blood from (typically one of the patient’s limbs, at wrist, elbow, back of knee, or ankle) is shrouded under cloth along with the thaele at work—so none will learn their secret. Personality: Thaele are a tight-lipped folk who typically keep to themselves and rarely make friends with those not of their kind, the better to keep their secret. Thaele tend to cultivate an aloof manner and purposefully keep their distance from others, often feigning an aversion to personal contact with strangers. Thaele long ago spread rumors (now deep-rooted across Castlemourn) that “the gods curse anyone who harms a thaele with bad luck, forever.” To combat golaunt aggression, they later augmented this with “the Talon consider no one worthy, who harms a thaele. Leave them alone, unless you need their magic.” Physical Description: Thaele are similar to humans in appearance (some tales say they began as “improved” or experimented-upon humans). They stand between 5 and 6 1/2 feet tall and weigh from 125 to 275 pounds, with males noticeably taller and heavier than females. Thaele are not nearly as physically diverse as humans; all thaele have sallow complexions and dark, pupil-less eyes. Their hair can be of any hue (most often dark), but it is almost always thin and straight; a scant few thaele have thick, curly, or wavy hair. Few thaele have facial hair.
Most thaele prefer subdued styles of dress, so as to not draw unwanted attention. It’s commonly believed by other races that none of the original thaele who appeared after the Fall have died of old age yet, so thaele lifespans are unknown. In truth, thaele age slower than humans, their unnatural thirst sustaining their bodies long past a normal human lifespan. Thaele children age like humans until they reach puberty, when their aging slows considerably (a typical two-century-old thaele looks like a human in his mid-thirties). Thaele typically mature around age 50 and can live for up to 500 years.
Relations: Thaele relations with other races are tentative at best. While their healing abilities are well-known throughout Mournra, most humanoids find it uncomfortable to be around these people (due to the nature of the thaele curse, though none realize that fact). Only the most desperate, those who have found no comfort from the ministrations of local clergy or healers, come to the thaele for aid. Alignment: The thaele take a neutral stance in life, preferring to remain out of the business of others. A rare few wholly embrace the evil side of their curse and embark on wanton killing sprees; others enjoy blood-hunting stealthily, taking pride in obtaining what they need without raising any alarm (for instance, sucking from stabled horses or oxen, or pouncing on pets running free by night, or even drugging victims with doctored wine and drinking blood “on the sly”). Their blood thirst makes it difficult for thaele to adhere to the tenets of good unless they can find willing, aware donors (such rare individuals tend to be outcast humans, elves, or half-elves craving love and acceptance). Thaele Lands: The thaele have no lands of their own. They wander Mournra with their families, spending much of their time in wagons moving from campsite to campsite (or, in warmer months, roaming the mountains and hunting). There are several “great camps” (semi-permanent locales where thaele tend to gather) on the migratory routes of wild herd animals (which tend to follow river valleys), though it’s rare for a family or clan to remain in one spot for more than a few months. Thaele dwelling among other races usually become live-in servants tending cemeteries or temple undercrypts, or keep to huts just outside towns and cities, and publicize their skills as healers, allowing them to make meager livings. Religion: Publicly, most thaele doubt the gods, claiming they need to see proof that the gods have power that they use for good in Castlemourn (as opposed to mortals doing good out of their own beliefs or doing ill “as they did during the Time of Destruction when we saw no aid from the gods at all!”) and cherish Mournans, aiding them for other than unknown, selfish divine ends, before they are worthy of worship. To avoid trouble with priests and religious zealots of other races, true thaele religious beliefs are not normally shared with nonthaele. Thaele believe that when they die, their souls merge with a supernatural entity comprised of the souls of their ancestors called the Dusk. Thaele don’t see death as a final ending, but rather the next stage in their existence. Thaele refer not to dying but to dusking.
Life is seen as a preparatory time in which each thaele must develop himself to be a worthy contribution to the Dusk. Each thaele has his own concept of what his contribution should or must be and what he must do to achieve it. This makes thaele worship a very personal matter. All thaele have slightly different interpretations of the Dusk; as a result, the true nature of the Dusk and the thaele spiritual relationship with it is one of the great mysteries of Castlemourn (see Chapter Seven, Mysteries of Castlemourn). Thaele clerics choose their domains based on their interpretation of the Dusk. Often these personal interpretations coincide closely enough with the dogma of one or all of the Sleeping Seven that the thaele cleric can pass for a priest in one of the churches of the Seven. Whether or not any of the Seven take offense to this practice is unknown; certainly, the gods do not complain of it to nonthaele clerics.
All thaele share certain superstitions that cause them to avoid flowers, mirrors, silver, and traveling over water.
Language: Thaele have their own secret language, Thaelen. In truth, Thaelen is a derivative of Crown Tongue, the ancient language of Castlemourn. In front of others, the thaele primarily speak Far Tongue. Most are literate, as they consider reading and writing an important key in their unending search for answers about their condition.
Names: A thaele is given a primary name at birth that no living direct family member bears. Individuals share a secondary name (usually a modification of a common primary name) with other members of their family. Some also take a third name if the group they travel with is made up of multiple families who have chosen to identify themselves by a common, shared name. For example, a thaele male might have the name Ruirel Xynxil Mournclan.
Male Names: Adalbran, Bruirlur, Etlarn, Lorn (Orlorn), Nelnarn, Omslarr, Plorn, Ruirel, Taladh, Torlond, Xynxan.
Female Names: Aethnae, Brysra, Caiomhae, Indyl, Kaie, Naerae, Qerara, Qlarra, Quemele (Quevele), Uerbora, Uoula, Vaerimbra. Adventurers: Thaele are all adventurers of a sort. Through their nomadic way of life, young thaele have experienced much by the time they reach puberty. It’s incredibly rare for a thaele to choose to ally or travel with a group of nonthaele for more than a lone encounter or situation (expected to last half a day or less).
Thaele Racial Traits
Add 2 to Strength and 1 to Constitution, minus 1 to Charisma. The thaele curse gives them greater strength, but it makes others shy away from them.
Medium: As Medium creatures, thaele have no special size-related bonuses or penalties.
Thaele base land speed is 30 feet.
Low-Light Vision: A thaele can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination, and retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
Accursed Aura: Because of their curse, all thaele involuntarily and continuously radiate lifedraining auras. Any living, non-thaele who comes within 5 feet of a thaele must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 12) or be drained of 1 hit point. Thereafter, for every additional minute the subject remains within the thaele’s accursed aura, he must make an additional Fortitude save (DC 12) or lose another hit point. Once a being makes a successful Fortitude save against the aura of a particular thaele, that being is immune to the effects of that particular thaele aura for the next 24 hours. The accursed aura is unsettling to non-thaele; thaele suffer a –2 morale penalty to all Charisma based skill checks (except Intimidate) when interacting with living creatures. Conversely, this aura has a pleasurable effect on undead and evil outsiders, who treat thaele as if under the effects of a sanctuary spell (caster level equal to the thaele’s HD).
Thaele gain no personal healing benefits from their accursed auras, but they can manipulate their auras to the benefit of others. By holding hands with two individuals, a thaele can attempt to transfer hit points from one willing donor to another who has suffered a hit point loss. Provided both individuals make their Fortitude save against the accursed aura’s draining effect, the donor can transfer 1d6 hit points per round to the injured subject. Hit point transfer requires the full concentration of both the donor and the thaele. None of the participants can take any actions and provoke attacks of opportunity for the duration of the transfer. The injured recipient can never gain more hit points than his maximum.
Blood Thirst: The thaele curse has made the race dependent on blood for sustenance. Food and water aren’t necessary for survival but consuming them isn’t harmful; thaele often eat and drink to maintain the illusion that they’re nearly human. Unless “gorged” (see below), a thaele must drink blood directly from a living non-thaele creature at least once per day. Thaele have no special physical features that allow them to draw blood, so their victims must first be cut with a slashing or piercing weapon for at least 1 point of damage, following which the thaele must make a successful grapple check to hold the opponent still and drink its blood. He need not grapple a willing or bound creature; however, drinking blood is still a fullround action that provokes attacks of opportunity. A subject from whom the thaele drinks blood suffers a temporary loss of Constitution at the rate of 1 point per round. While a thaele only needs to feed for 1 round per day, he can prolong his feeding provided he can maintain contact with his victim, requiring additional grapple checks each round. Drinking for up to six rounds allows a thaele to become gorged, storing enough sustenance to avoid the need to drink blood for 1 day per additional round (so a fully gorged thaele need not drink blood for the next five days). Thaele who drink for seven rounds or more can consume more blood, but (unless restoring an existing Constitution loss; see next page) their bodies can’t store any additional blood. No matter how much blood the thaele imbibes, he must still drink again on the sixth day after feeding or begin to suffer Constitution damage. The negative effects of any disease or poison the thaele’s subject is afflicted with will be neutralized if the thaele is permitted to drink the subject’s blood for 3 full rounds. This act is a supernatural ability producing effects identical to the remove disease and neutralize poison spells. While using this ability, the thaele is not affected by any disease or poison present in the victim’s body. (In all other
situations, a thaele is subject to disease and poison effects).
A thaele unable to feed within the required time suffers adverse effects: at the end of each day he’s unable to feed, he suffers 1 point of temporary Constitution damage. The Constitution damage remains until he is able to consume blood for a number of rounds equal to the temporary Constitution damage he has sustained. Magical and natural healing of ability damage does not help a thaele who has not been able to feed.
Seasickness: Thaele are highly susceptible to nausea when traveling by boat. Every hour a thaele travels in this manner, he must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 12) or become nauseated for the duration of the voyage. The nausea can be terminated by a remove curse or similar spell, but regardless of the usual spell effects, the thaele must make a new save each hour he remains at sea. This condition can be prevented through the use of specially prepared drugs that allow thaele to sleep through such voyages, such as kleefae paste (see Chapter Two, Magic).
Silver Allergy: Thaele are highly allergic to silver; its touch causes their skin to erupt in blistering sores (fading over 1d4+1 days from last contact). If silver is touched to a thaele’s bare flesh, he must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 12) or suffer 1 point of damage. Likewise, silver weapons have a +1 bonus to damage against thaele. • Racial Skills: Medicine and Intimidation. Thaele are taught medicine from birth; they are always considered class skills regardless of any chosen vocation.
Automatic Language: Thaelen and Far Tongue. Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such as Druidic).