Kappa (3.5e Race)

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Within the mountains, there are the baba, and in the caves are the oni. In the grasses, you have the tsuchinoko, and the skies have tengu. The kappa are what you people might recognize as "water goblins"... And depraved in similar ways. They stick to their own. Whatever you do, cover your own ass.
—Hiyomasa Urashi, advice to foreign adventurers

Vicious but far from incredibly witty, the kappa are an aquatic race of humanoids that embody traits of reptilians and amphibians. They are known for their love of physical challenge and are never one to shy from a good fight. While they are known to be aggressive, they are quite lax with their own kind and can show a playful side as well.


Kappa are an amphibious species with a wide range of chaotic temperaments. Many tend to be tricksters that are straight-up malicious. A few are less lethal and can be even helpful to people. According to legends, kappa were the ones who taught some humans about the arts of wrestling, one of their favorite pastimes. They are considered intelligent, or at least cunning, being able to learn human languages and even play complex games like shogi. This is relative to more monstrous creatures like orcs. The stature and mischievous demeanor of a kappa has earned them the moniker "water goblin" in some areas. Of course, they can still be tricked somewhat easily with some good old fashioned etiquette.

While most grown kappa are solitary, they all usually grow up within family units. Within these families, they form strong senses of honor and loyalty. These bonds can last into adulthood, and adult kappa have been seen acting in gangs with those they were familiar with. Their honor is also very important, and a kappa never breaks a promise no matter what. They can be proud and stubborn about their ways of doing things, even if they are wrong, and will defend their allies in the face of fire. They can be extremely aggressive and easily motivated to violence through insults to their pride or friends.

When they aren't engaged in battle or anything strenuous, kappa like to spend their time lazing about the waters they call home. They are slow and easy-going when calm and like to play lax games with others of their kind. However, woe onto those who tread uninvited into these waters they consider their own, for kappa are also highly territorial. The waters they frequent have been associated with drownings and even grisly death.

Physical Description[edit]

Kappa are aquatic, reptilian humanoids who inhabit bodies of water. They are amphibious and able to talk and breath whilst underwater. Due to their reptilian nature, they thrive in warmer temperatures, though they can tolerate cold to a degree. They are generally the size of a shorter-than-average human, some being as small as a child. However, their height belies their hidden strength, as they are avid wrestlers who can flip an adult human male easily. Their skin is covered in fine scales which range in colors from deep, earthy green to even blue or red. The tops of their heads grow dark-colored hair.

They are also most comfortable in water and prefer not to be caught trapped on land. Their anatomy and biology is equipped for aquatic lifestyles. For example, they have webbed, thumbless hands and feet, each tipped with sharp nails. Instead of a normal mouth, they have a turtle-like beak and shell. Their skin is also notably elastic and known to smell of fish. Kappa will often shed their skin as they grow, leaving these thick discarded piles of fishy skin by the banks of the waters they call home.

Kappa are sometimes incorrectly classified as chimerical creatures since their form appears to be a mishmash of various animals. However, they are much more peculiar than that. For example, they have three anuses, which allows them to pass a lot more flatulence. They are rather fond of doing this as pranks. Also, their forearms are actually attached to one another within their shells rather than to their collar and chest bones like a humans. Thus, pulling one arm will lengthen it while contracting the other. The shell of a kappa is also interestingly indented so that it grows a divot in the center. This is used by kappa to carry their eggs on their back. When these eggs hatch, kappa usually keep a small pol of water in the divot as well so their tadpole-like babies can stay moist as they mature.

While they can appear silly or not intimidating, people had best beware of kappa. They have a love of cucumbers and freshly slaughtered viscera for food.


Due to their nature as natural tricksters and territorial beings, kappa are largely isolated from other creatures in terms of diplomatic relations. Their scattered, solitary lives as adults also impede on collective relations. Sometimes, an elder kappa may be able to orchestrate terms with humans on the usage of their waterways over a body of subservient kappa. Otherwise, individual kappa can be highly antagonistic and attack any who dare encroach on their lakes and ponds. However, there have been stories of kappa that were grateful to people who give them cucumbers that they help in times of need. Other stories include kappa who are avid wrestling buddies of tough creatures like orcs and human sumos. Kappa are also known to sometimes ally with goblinoid forces against other races, usually in exchange for a share of spoils.


Kappa are usually chaotic creatures, but not to a fault. They are able to think and plan ahead, but not with an extreme intelligence like that of an illithid or something. Regardless, they are not so dull and stupid as some would believe. At the same time, they are sometimes lawful, being loyally bound by their promises as well as the orders of kappa or other superiors who outrank them if they are in a gang. They can be similarly staunch supporters of those they consider allies. In these cases, the kappa will ignore their own judgment to stubbornly protect their friends. The same can go for their pride. Morals of good and evil do not usually concern a kappa much, as they like to just enjoy life and kick the butt of anyone who impedes that. This generally portrays them as neutral creatures that simply do what the situation demands. However, some kappa who have developed a grudge or have a strong obligation to a certain purpose can be motivated to change their views and alignment in favor of their purpose.


Kappa are highly dependent on water to form their communities, grow their young, and overall survival. They inhabit places that tend to be freshwater, as opposed to salt. However, there are known kappa communities that are seen in deltas and other openings where saltwater is present. They generally prefer secluded places like lagoons or solitary rivers where they are unlikely to be disturbed. They are territorial and can be angered when settlements move in near them or fisherman fish in their territory without permission. Due to their love of water, they are highly aversive to dry climates like deserts. They also prefer more temperate locations as opposed to frigid ones and like places that are warm year round. In locations that have changing seasons, kappa are known to live almost exclusively underwater when it is chilly. Some who live by mountain streams will also take up residence in caves. There are also records of illicit communities of kappa that inhabit sewers of populous cities.

Despite their decent population size, kappa do not have a cohesive society like that of elves or dwarves. Their large families are primarily for breeding and congregate in breeding cycles in large bodies of water. Since adult kappa tend to strike out on their own, these populations are primarily composed of caretakers and young, for the most part. They are organized in a tribal system, with the oldest kappa being the venerable leader, or sometimes a suiko. Caretakers carry the eggs and tend to young, even taking over hunting roles to keep the entire community fed. Caretakers often need to be replaced with new adults and these are appointed by the leader.

The adult kappa who go off on their own sometimes form gangs with those that they are familiar with and establish a collective territory for their home and use. Sometimes, they will establish a new breeding ground for raising families when they get older and become venerable.


Rather than worship higher powers, kappa are actually commonly thought to be river spirits themselves. They are known to be highly irreverent creatures with little regard for things like the social norms of other races. Many of them are distrustful of faiths and deities in general, meaning you rarely see a kappa cleric. However, they do respect river gods and water-related gods, like Eldath and Silvanus. They are somewhat picky with their deities, as they don't really associate with cold or open oceans, and so do not share faiths with cults of Auril or Umberlee, normally. In this way, kappa have a very narrow-minded approach to religion. They respect and worship deities only insofar as they are relevant to their own lives and only if the worship does not strain their own personal aims. Their forms of worship are thus minimal, with little more maybe an offering or two once a month at some small, shabbily constructed cairn placed by the river.

On the other hand, kappa can be highly spiritual. While they appear to only be annoying tricksters, kappa are known to have several superstitions and practice spiritual exercises to strengthen their bodies and minds. Some of their superstitions can be quite silly. For example, they hate to ride horses or be within distance of a cow or other bovine creature. These two animals are believed to be bad luck for them. Some kappa have fey-like aversion to iron objects, even. Kappa shamans are known to be highly spiritual healers, with a great deal of knowledge on poultices. Their love of wrestling also has ritual etiquette, like that of sumo. Kappa will prep religiously for their battles, with strict diets and abstaining from distractions to best ensure victory.


All Kappa speak the language "Kp~'k", or Khipak. The language is comprised of clicks and other sounds that do not use vocal-cords. The language has a small alphabet, the consonants being 'K, T, S, Z(long s), P(a pop noise), X, &(tongue cluck), *(teeth/beak clack), and #(tsk, tsk sound), the "nouns", or the equivalent thereof, being ~, !, and ^, all of which are unpronounceable by non-kappa. Capitalization or bolding represents a verbal emphasis of exaggeration, and apostrophes denote a suffix/prefix or an alternate form of the word used, verbalized by a sudden exhalation and/or inhalation, like an H. For example, "Kappa" is Kp~k, "Stick" is k^st, "Staff" (carved stick) is k^s't, "Long" is !K, "Long Stick" is !K'k^st, and "Long Staff" is !K'k^s't. Any non Kappa that knows Kp~'k must uses regular vowels to represent the Kp~'k vowels, "~" being "u" as in under (or "a" as in all), "!" being "e" as in red, and "^" being "i" as in it. So !K'k^st would be pronounced ek-h-kist.


Kappa names are typically Kp~'k in origin, and then translated into a more pronounceable version, like how the language name, Kp~'k, turns into Khipak. Typically the names are nonsence words, with no real meaning in Khipak, except as a name. Common names include:

Male: Thax (#~X), Kassed (K~z!&), Ti'Paxik (t^'P~xk), Huthak (*'~#~k), Kapith (K~p^#)

Female: Kakikit (K~k^k'^t), Sakith (s~k^#), Hekit ('!k^t), Sakaxika (z~K~x^k~)

Racial Traits[edit]

  • +2 Constitution, −2 Dexterity, −2 Charisma. A kappa has endurance, but their shells render them a bit less than flexible compared to shell-less races, and their overall disregard for several aspects of social norms and ettiquette render them artless at best and outright disrespectful at worst.
  • Humanoid (Reptilian)
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, Kappa have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Kappa base land speed is 20 feet. However, kappa can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations). Kappa also have a swim speed of 30 feet, as they are more agile in water.
  • Low-Light Vision: A kappa can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • Inhuman Build: Kappa have a shell that can be difficult to fit with normal attire, and thus wear armor as a non-humanoid creature (twice the base cost).
  • Shell: Kappa have large, tough shells that provide great protection. This shell provides the kappa with +5 natural armor.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Kp~'k. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Goblin, Orc.
  • Favored Class: Fighter.
  • Level Adjustment: +0

Vital Statistics[edit]

Table: Random Starting Ages
Adulthood Simple Moderate Complex
75 years +3d6 +3d8 +3d12
Table: Aging Effects
Middle Age1 Old2 Venerable3 Maximum Age
120 years 150 years 210 years +4d20 years
  1. At middle age, −1 to Str and Dex; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
  2. At old age, −2 to Str and Dex; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
  3. At venerable age, −3 to Str and Dex; −1 to Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
Table: Random Height and Weight
Gender Base Height Height Modifier Weight
Male 4' 11" +2d12 (140 lb. × 2d4) +75 lb.
Female 4' 9" +2d12 (130 lb. × 2d4) +70 lb.

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