Mato (5e Race)

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Mato[edit]

Creatures of water and land, created long ago by the goddess Kota, the Mato colour lakes, rivers and ports with their colourful shimmering scales and vast knowledge of the ocean floor.

Physical Description[edit]

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Close approximation to a male mato. Note the discrepancies: Mato have legs instead of a singular tailfin. (Source: The Art of PO-WEN)

The Mato are colourful beings, with scales in the colours of the rainbow. Their fingers and toes are webbed, and fins are located on the sides of their lower legs and their forearms. This latter can reach as high as their upper arm. The colour scales of their arms and legs often match, though the webbing and fins tend to match the Mato's dorsal fins.

At their shoulders and their hips, the Mato have dorsal fins. The upper one is reminiscent of a ruff and serves mostly as a display of status: Mato who spent more time working in the waters developed a stronger dorsal fin, yet saw it suffer in elegance and beauty. On the other hand, Mato that could afford to live in aerated houses and who could take proper care of their fin developed more colourful ones. The difference in this primary dorsal fin perhaps the most obvious distinction between the Mato-Bai and the Mato-Lii.

The secondary dorsal fin, hanging down from the hips and covering the hindquarters, extends into an elongated ray-like tail. This fin is used mostly for stabilisation and the tail aids in taking sharp turns and manoeuvering. However, both above and below water, it can also produce a toxin and serves as a common self-defence mechanism. The secondary dorsal fin often has the same colour as the primary dorsal fin.

While all Mato do grow hair, most Mato-Bai both male and female opt to go bald. Mato-Lii can often afford to take care of their hair both in and out of the water, and as such usually keep it. This is the second most obvious distinction, though not always accurate. A Mato's hair, like their fins, can have a host of different colours. Usually, it takes the same as the Mato's dorsal fins.

History[edit]

Long, long ago, when the earth was empty of sentient life, the Earth-Mother and the Heavens made love and bore children; the first of the Gods. Powerful wizards and witches who could harness the power of Earth itself. The Earth-Mother sent her children forth into the world, across the continents of what would become the Twelve Queendoms, to create life.

Kota, a daughter, dove into the vast oceans to create sentient life from the fish and critters deep down below the waves. Her first attempt bore the Makan, scaled beings with arms and a fin. But upon realising these Makan would be confined to the ocean floor, unable to advance past basic tool use and incapable of worshipping her, Kota left the Makan behind and began anew. In a lake, this time, on the island Kotinos. Here, she created the Mato; capable of living both above and below the waves.

Kota taught the Mato how to farm, how to build, how to create structures and how to tap into the goddess's latent power to create pockets of air deep inside the lake. She instructed them to build her a grand temple under the waves and gave birth to the monster Ketos to guard it. Eventually, Ketos would escape the lake and roam the seas, but for now, it kept watch over its mother. And when she saw her people blossom, she entered a deep slumber in a sealed room of the temple.

The Mato continued to live and grow in the lake. With little room for expansion, they began to farm the seafloor for their resources; they farmed seaweeds, fish and shells of molluscs, they carved houses in the submerged caves and built castles on the lakebed. And as they grew, more luxury-items were farmed: Pearls, luminescent stones, and colourful scales. Eventually, the Mato would come into contact with the humans living above, on the island, recounted in the fairy tale of Leeli and Davos. Some Mato began to journey to these humans' harbour-city in the north, where their underwater skills proved to come in handy when it came to building docks or bridges, constructing and upkeeping vessels - and most importantly, diving up lost riches from the ocean floors.

Elven merchants from the west, who seldom traded with Kotinos, took notice of this particular handy feature and began hunting and enslaving the Mato. Initially, the Kotinos humans resisted, but the Selen elves were not only powerful - their pockets were deep, as well. Soon, almost every major harbour was outfitted with a colony of Mato slaves to serve the harbour. Often, old sewers were repurposed for them to live in, and the quality of life was abhorrent. When going out to a wreck, the divers' feet were tied together, fitted with an anchor and a buoy so the crew could always locate and retrieve them. But no city treated them worse than the primary port of the Great Elven Empire: Jaylas.

The Selen elves had always been arrogant and full of disdain, even to outsider elves, and the high priest of Selen was disgusted by the thought of a lowlife race like the Mato in one of his cities, even in the sewers. But, his harbourmasters convinced him of their benefits, and as a compromise, the Mato were locked in one of the many partially submerged grottos in the cliffs along which Jaylas was built. They were packed in utter darkness, sprawled over each other like fish in a can, half in and half out of the water. Whenever the harbourmasters needed their service, a handful was taken at random with no indiscretion between male or female, kid or adult. Every so often a brave, rebellious, foolish Mato would attempt to fight them, which eventually led to their tails being severed. Not even the dead were removed from this pit of darkness and despair.

However, all these colonies in all these port cities still managed to stay in contact with each other, managed to survive, through the help of their sister species, the Makan. Because they were confined to the oceans, they were free to go where they pleased and none on land could tell them differently. Though they could not take the landlubbers directly, many Makan tribes (or schools) banded together to help the Mato in their tasks, to bring food, and to relay messages. And over time, stories of hope began to sprout, tales of the Ketos returning, tales of Kota awakening to avenge them, tales of a warrior rising in Kotinos. Little did they know, eventually the latter would come true.

His name was Astreo, and he was a human boy from Athem, Kotinos. Since the village was close to the Lake of the Ketos, Astreo was familiar with the Mato, and with their struggles also. Through time he would rise into a powerful man, he would become God-Emperor of the world, and the legends say his first decree as ruler of the Astrean Empire was to outlaw Mato slavery. Once freed, many Mato decided to leave, either back to the Lake of the Ketos, or to start anew elsewhere. Many rivers or lakes saw new Mato settlements popping up, however not few Mato decided to stay in the harbour-cities, too. The Emperor funded the construction of proper residences, and to this day most of the old harbour-cities have a Matotown. Slowly, they integrated back into society, slowly they came to be seen as equals - especially when they decided to pursue their previous careers as actual jobs. Especially in Eufraian ports, the Mato divers and their Makan goons became an indispensable part of the city - and its criminal underworld.

People are harder to change than rules, however, and while the Mato population in Jaylas thrived under Astreo - citizens were outlawed to harm them, and over time a large and fruitful colony grew in the many cave systems in the cliff - things changed when the emperor passed away and the lands were cut up between his daughters. Irene, his oldest, came into power of what had used to be the Elven Empire and tried to revert all laws that would save the Mato. Citizenships were revoked, and hunts started again. But this time, the Mato were not outnumbered, and not weak. Their cave systems were a maze, and many campaigns ended in drowned elves. Eventually, the Queen decided the Mato black market in Jaylas boosted the economy more than their presence hurt her pride, and the hunts her wallet. They were still no citizens, and still had no rights, but in their secret city, they didn't need to. At last, they were safe again.

Society[edit]

Given the Mato's many journeys over the ages, either willing or unwilling, the Mato do not have one uniform society. However, their societies can be split up into three main subsections: The traditional city, the harbour-towns, and the new cities.


The traditional city

The first city in the Lake of the Ketos is the only traditional Mato city in existence, given how the species originated here and did not expand until much later. It is the only one old enough for the grandiose Mato underwater structures, like Kota's Monument or the palace. It is still governed by a king, a far descendant of Leeli so the legend goes. The king rules over all Mato in the lake, and while the river to Catena City is officially his domain as well, the Mato in Catena answer to the Queen of Kotinos instead.

The first city is still entirely self-sufficient, still farms the same mundane and extravagant items, though trade with Catena and the rest of the world have opened it up to more grandeur. Hierargiecally it is still as it used to be: Most of the workers are Bai, and most of the priests, artisans and royal family are Lii. The city still has a traditional army and guard, and still carries the same laws and punishments as it always had; the most severe offences are still punished by banishment from the water.

The first city is also home to Kota's Monument, the most important structure in Mato religion, in which Kota still sleeps in a sealed-off room. It is the most touristic place of the city, as a lot of foreign Mato and Makan alike - especially the more religiously inclined - make the trip to the temple to pray to their goddess. While not being mandated by any religious rule or law, over time this trek has become a staple of their religion.


The harbour-towns

Despite being grouped under one category here, no two harbour-towns are the same. They are vastly influenced by local cultures and societies, by the way the Mato were treated in bondage, and by how they are treated now. However, they share the similarity that they all are a society living within a bubble inside another, foreign society - not unlike Chinatowns or Little Italy. In these harbour-towns, the distinction between Bai and Lii is much less obvious than in the traditional city, and instead, Mato are judged by their work. A lot of Mato have become dock workers or shipwrights. Some offer their services as underwater experts, or to dive up sunken riches, though most of those divers employ the seabound Makan, who are much more acclimatised to saltwater and the dangers of the sea, to do the retrieving.

No small amount of Mato has decided to enter the criminal underground, too, which proved a booming business in the bustling harbours. Networks of Makan envoys can transfer information and gossip between harbour-towns faster than any ship can, and excel at smuggling contraband in, out of or through harbours. Mato dabbling in the underground make good use of their sister species' skill, as they are the only species able to communicate both with them and with the landlubbers. Almost every old port with a Matotown has a black market run by them. One only needs to look close enough.

The one harbour-town that is most different from the rest, different enough to warrant its own subsection, is the one in Jaylas. Contrary to most other Matotowns, this one is almost entirely hidden from the city in fear of the queen, who had attempted to enslave the species again. The black market is the only place where Jaylas citizens come in contact with Mato, and this is where the Mato offer their other services, like retrieving valuables from the seafloor, as well. Since this Matotown is much more secluded and not constantly in contact with the city above, religion has taken up roots again and many caves have shrines dedicated to Kota, or to Kota's children. A monument has even been built there in her honour, albeit not in traditional style, and not few Lii have taken up priesthood again.


The new cities

After many enslaved Mato were freed and decided to seek their luck elsewhere, new cities began to pop up all over the world in large bodies of water. Like the first city, these were more secluded and self-sufficient, the people returned to a more peaceful lifestyle of foraging and farming. However, since through slavery, all Mato had become equal, there is no systematic distinction between Bai and Lii - though Bai are still more suited for the more hardy work, and Lii for precise tasks. Since these cities are relatively new compared to the first city, their infrastructure is far from being as grand. In fact, many of these cities are more akin to large villages.

Given how the Mato religion played a large role during their time in slavery, to provide hope and solace, most of the new cities returned to this religion as well, and shrines and monuments were put up. Often, those buildings are among the most pristine of the villages, though they are far from being as spectacular as the monuments in the first city. Most Mato taking up the pilgrimage to Kota's monument hail from the new cities rather than the harbour-towns, seeing how religion is not nearly as big there. A lot of the older Mato of the new cities are resentful of the harbour-towns, and claim Mato who decided to live there over the rural lifestyle of the new cities have lost their roots.

Despite being scattered all over the world, the new cities do not fall under the jurisdiction of the queen of whatever country they are in. They are not part of a more cohesive whole, like the harbour-towns, and have no king, like the first city. Instead, they elect government officials to take care of city-wide developments, and otherwise live by the day, using a barter system or simply shell-based economies. From a cultural standpoint, the harbour-city in Jaylas is more akin to such new cities than to harbour-towns, however given its history it's often classified a harbour-town.

Mato Names[edit]

Due to their habitat being partly underwater, a Mato has usually two names; one in Kingspeak (Common), the abovewater language, and one in Maii, the underwater language. Because Maii consists of mostly clicks and whistles, however, this language is very basic and the names therein are moreso simple nicknames. They similarly cannot be expressed in words.

Male: Sinuel, Sinbanael, Apinadal

Female: Keeli, Leela, Estalla

Mato Traits[edit]

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1 and your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Age. Mato hatch fully capable to swim and communicate underwater, and generally within five years they learn to walk and adapt to an above-water environment. After twenty years, they are fully grown. On average they live up to 70 years, but some can survive up to 90.
Alignment. Mato don't tend to one specific allignment.
Size. Mato can vary in length, on average ranging from 190 to 210 cm tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. When in or under water, your speed becomes 60 feet.
Amphibiousness. Your lungs are adapted to the underwater environment, and allow you to wrangle oxygen out of water as well as air. You can breath both above and below water.
Stinging Tail. The Mato's ray-like tail can be used as a self-defence weapon. As an action or reaction (attack of opportunity), you may attempt to hit any creature within five feet, dealing 1d4 slashing damage. You are proficient with using your tail and use DEX as ability modifier. When submerged in water, you have advantage on the roll.
Venomous Needle. Once per short rest if you land a hit with your tail (see Stinging Tail), you may force a CON save against 8+CON DC. Upon failure, the opponent suffers 1d10 acid damage. At 5th and 16th level, the damage increases to 2d10 and 3d10 respectively. At 11th level, the ability can be used twice before requiring a rest.
Waterborn. Being water-born, the Mato require three times more water than the average human. In addition, if they have not submerged their bodies in water or had a long shower once every two long rests, their venom becomes weak and they can no longer use Venomous Needle.
Guardian of the Depths. Adapted to even the most extreme ocean depths, the Mato have resistance to cold damage, and ignore any of the drawbacks caused by a deep, underwater environment.
Aquatic Expertise. Whenever you make an Intelligence (Nature) check related to aquatic life, you are considered proficient in the Nature skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Maii
Subrace. Mato-Bai, Mato-Lii

Mato-Bai[edit]

Ability Score Increase. Hardier scales make you more resiliant; increase your CON by 1.
Underwater combatant. You are proficient with the common underwater weapons and fishing tools; spear, pike, rapier and trident.

Mato-Lii[edit]

Ability Score Increase. Your scales are smooth and shimmering; increase your CHA by 1.
Aquatic Expertise. Whenever you make an Intelligence (Nature) check related to aquatic life, you are considered proficient in the Nature skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

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