Yalu (5e Race)
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The Yalu (Lantern Folk, the Under Light)
|“||After she was struck the veil lifted over her head and a beam of light shot forth from her eye sockets so powerful it sundered the beast.||”|
|—A human describing a yalu woman’s abilities|
The yalu look like monochromatic humanoid beings with a slight glow to their fingernails and toenails, their veins, as well as their hair, which is only notable in darkness. Their spinal column is also pronounced to the point where most of their day-to-day wear is fitted around it. They come in black, gray, or white skin tones, with thick veins only noticeable when glowing in the dark. Their head bears a human-like structure but with ears that point behind them, stronger slightly-curved teeth for eating roots, and a built-in veil that covers their eyes and most of their nose. The veil features a pronounced polished-seeming bone structure at the top of their forehead that can twist, lifting the veil up to reveal their hollow eye sockets, and their exposed brightly-glowing brain behind. Their nails grow in a fashion where the center is longer than the edges, forming into quasi-claws not quite strong enough to do extra damage in combat outside of slap fights, but practical enough to aid in the safe uprooting of plants and their saplings.
The light they bear comes in white and every color of the rainbow, though is a genetically-inherited trait, thusly those from the same places tend to all feature the same color of glow, the most common of which typically being blue or white, although it is said that at one point in time yellow was the dominant color across the yalu. The inner glow of the yalu is the same color as their outer glow, but is by far more intense, and envelops the entirety of their organs, especially the brain. This glow requires the consumption of magical energies at least once a week to maintain. Upon death the yalu’s skin becomes translucent, revealing the glowing organs within. Their brain is longer than that of a human’s, and both their heart and lungs nearly twice as long as a man’s, but placed a little lower in their body, and are a bit thinner as well.
The yalu are not truly born except under the direst of circumstances, but rather constructed by one another out of plant material infused with the magical energies of the Underdark or other magic-filled places. They do however construct one another with functioning sexual organs in case they are forced from magic-rich lands. A constructed yalu is built as a fully mature adult, and as such most do not understand the physical natures of humanoid infants and children, instead treating most of them as they would the infantile stages of farm animals. During the construction process, which takes 1d4 days, the new yalu looks like a glowing mass of various plant material carefully sculpted together into a breathing humanoid form. Due to their construction, most of the yalu are well-built and designed to be physically pleasing to look upon, many even voluptuous, but rarely are they overbearing or intimidating in their sculpture outside the years of warring.
According to legend, the yalu were constructed en masse in times long forgotten and sent into the Underdark to retrieve something of value. What exactly that thing was changes depending on the one telling the tale, but one thing does remain constant. The yalu were said to have been forged from the roots of an ever-glowing tree. The yalu of times memorable have lived in the otherwise dark places of the world for as long as they can note, farming and trading the plant material only they can farm in such places for knowledge, protection, and all manner of other things. They live a structured and orderly life with organized campaigns into the darker depths, away from their walled lantern bearing townships, in search of their breed’s true destiny.
Yalu live orderly and self-dedicating lives, taking equal turns as farmers, guardsmen, builders, tradesmen, archaeologists, and soldiers. It is only during the year between different professions that yalu of their homesteads take time off for their hobbies and personal interests that lead too far out from their other responsibilities. Their towns are grown out from a planted centralized tree in magically enhanced locations such as the Underdark, the direction its roots growing over time becoming the roads, and both the buildings and farmland fitting in between them as it ages. They construct a wall outside the city limits, that they push out as the township grows and place upon it lanterns made from the collected skulls and brains of their fallen brethren. Outside the city are the beasts they have allied with in their town, as well the exiles who act as the first line of defense in hopes of earning a way back into their old home. Many yalu towns feature extended farmland outside the walls and glowing beasts called dru yilig that work the fields alongside them.
The dishonorable among their culture are branded with the symbol of a tree to remind them of their past and told in a circle of their peers of all the beneficial things they have ever done throughout their lives, in hopes that they will do better. If someone in yalu society commits a crime after being branded they are cast out as exiles, but should the crime involve murder or rape they are publically beaten by their creators should they still live, and then transmogrified in a day-long ritual into a beast of burden known as a dru yilig and are either cast out or kept as a riding beast. Marriage in yalu culture is heard of, but most of their kind do not partake in it except with members of other races that die due to age. Those few yalu who do marry other members of their kind have no issue also marrying members of mortal races, occasionally creating an odd family wherein the wife has a yalu and mortal husband while the husband also has a mortal wife, which can create all sorts of complex familial issues, of which the yalu are patient enough to deal with. Among the young, though short-lived marriages between yalu happen, with the pair agreeing upon a number of years or up until what kind of event their marriage will last for prior to having it.
Their stance towards other races is to not trust them unless they’ve proven themselves directly benevolent or otherwise beneficial to yalu ends, and most bear either a strong hatred towards drow, duergar, and other generally malevolent races of the Underdark or embrace them as strong allies and trading partners. Among other cultures, the yalu typically don’t stay long unless there is an abundant source of magical energy to feed on nearby. If there is enough energy to remain for long a yalu typically finds a life of exchanging responsibilities over the years, finding that they cannot stick to one profession for more than a decade or two without getting an unyielding urge to care for responsibilities elsewhere. If they are not in magic rich areas a yalu’s life becomes focused on ensuring they have enough magic to survive, so they go in search of magical artifacts, scrolls, items, and friends from which to siphon magical energies.
Yalu Names and Titles
The yalu bare a variety of titles as well as a birth and survival name. Among yalu culture titles come before birth names which in turn come before survival names. However in day-to-day speech ones birth name is sufficient for the purposes of communication. Titles are presented in their language and their birth names are fusions of words of meaning in their language as well words of meaning in another language, so as to hopefully confer the strengths of the languages together. Survival names, however can be in any language but are still words of meaning towards why they survived their first true incursion into the Underdark.
Titles: Ultei (Married to One, meaning an Immortal or other Yalu), Tei (Married, meaning to a Mortal or with an agreed upon time limit), Ultoi (Married to Multiple Partners), Xulei (Slayer of Enemies), Xuloi (Slayer of All our Enemies), Zalei (Defender of Allies), Zaloi (Defender of All our Allies), Mila (Keeper of the Dead) Sila (Keeper of the Grove) among others left to your discretion.
Male Birth Names: Vanu, Ninek, Tadul, Wiqam, Panu, Wenzes, Hanvul
Female Birth Names: Savu, Valecs, Omi, Funa, Tamwi, Qavnes, Daunzi
Survival Names: Waterhid, Shieldstruck, Alliesworn, Oathkept, Beneathdead, Trueblade
Humanoids capable of farming plants in the Underdark and reliant upon magical energies to survive that can produce light from under their veils.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution and Dexterity both increase by 1.
Age. Under normal conditions a yalu is born an adult and remains that way indefinitely, however, if born they remain an infant for a year, become a small child at two, a medium child by three, and the edge of adolescence by their fourth year, come the fifth they are adolescent, and by the seventh year of life, they’ve reached physical maturity. Once fully mature a yalu no longer requires food unless injured however requires magical energies from which to feed, such as those free-floating in the Underdark or else they will rapidly age and die in 1d10 weeks or unless fed magical energies before dying from the aging process. Most yalu surviving in society manage nearly a century under their belt, and few more manage higher than such due to their societal need to venture forth into the Underdark and face its dangers.
Alignment. Any lawful, with a few outliers who are often exiles or live among other races.
Size. Yalu stand an average of 6 and a half feet tall, with the genders equal in height across the board. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. Due to your ancestry, you are no longer impeded by difficult terrain in the Underdark or naturally occurring underground spaces.
Blindsight: 120ft. You do not have eyes and thus cannot see distinctions such as color, however, you have a stronger sense of texture than most and can read or write so long as it is engraved or embossed.
Magical Nature. You do not need to eat, drink, or sleep unless injured to repair one’s body, however, you must still breathe and consume magical energy (normally taken from the air in the Underdark through breathing) in order to prevent rapid aging and death. You can consume the magic from any magical object or absorb magical energy from any scroll or spell, even if it’s being cast, but only superficial amounts at a time. It would take a week of daily feeding to fully drain a cantrip from a ring, for instance, and much longer of the same for even a level one spell. So outside long term magic eating this ability can’t end or even truly weaken spell effects, as it eats only minute amounts of magical energy at once. However, a plethora of yalu gathered in one place could potentially devour a strong spell, even as it is being cast, they could even, in theory, consume a spellcaster’s ability to wield magic from them completely should enough gather in one place and feed off the same source with all their might. However, this should be left to the DM’s discretion.
Arcane Death. When they die, the yalu’s skin becomes translucent, revealing thick glowing veins across its body and the sunny-glow of all its organs within. The glow will remain from each of the organs for 1d6+1 hours or until there are no magical energies around for them to feed off of, however, if a healing effect is used on the organs they will believe themselves alive, and the organ along with its glow can then be harvested and retained for use later. (Most often the brain for creating a Lesser Lantern of Returns.)
Dark Farmers. You can farm plants successfully underground, all they require extra is light from your Skull Light trait. Due to your race’s history underground, you also gain advantage on Perception checks made in the Underdark.
Skull Light (Spell-Like Ability). The veil over the yalu’s face and eye sockets lifts up, revealing a bright sunny glow from within. This glow produces bright light for up to 2 hours, or whenever the yalu decides to close the veil, before truly needing to close to recharge. The light has the same radius as a torch, but counts as true sunlight.
Lantern of Returns, Lesser (Spell-Like Ability). Whenever the Yalu is successfully struck in combat they store a charge of this much damage into their brain. (However they can only retain one charge at a time, and the charge is always the highest damage they’ve taken since the last activation of this skill or the last rest they’ve taken). This charge can be activated at any time they may take a bonus action, but also during grapples, while prone, or even during death throes so long as they are not paralyzed or unconscious. When activated the veil lifts over the yalu’s face and empty eye sockets shooting a blast of radiant damage in a cone in front of it for as much damage as was stored.
Languages. You can speak and understand Common, Undercommon, Light Sign (A language requiring channeling of sound through one’s empty eye sockets to properly speak) and either Sylvan or Dwarvish.
In addition to the prime yalu race there are two variant subraces as detailed below.
Bestial yalu with pronounced fangs, true claws, and terrible ferocity. The dru yalu are a less civilized and fiercely territorial variant of the breed that view outsiders as a true threat until proven otherwise. They form wild brush/grasslands in the Underdark that they utilize to both hide secret garden homes and stalk prey. Often believed to have originated as the monstrous children of a civilized yalu and their cursed dru yilig lover.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity increases by 1.
Proficiencies. You are proficient in Unarmed Combat and Natural Weapons.
Stealth. You are proficient in Stealth and you have advantage on Stealth checks while underground.
Claws. 1d8 slashing damage, +1 when attacking from stealth
Bite. 1d4 piercing damage, +1 when attacking from stealth
Tall yalu, the most ancient of which even count as large in size, though such should be considered unplayable as they are millennia or older. The aetherai are a magic obsessed variant of the breed and feature two distinct veils atop their head, one for each eye socket. As well these yalu feature a metallic, almost silvery sheen to their skin and are known as spelleaters. (Due to their daily power, new DMs may wish to avoid utilizing this subrace in their first few games.)
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence increases by 1.
Magical Absorption. Any spell cast at you for a level lower than your own you can attempt to eat. By doing an extra Intelligence roll (DC 11 + spell level) and upon succeeding you consume the spell, filling your need to eat magic and nullifying the spell's effect, however, you must have prepared to use this if something casts a spell at you in order to use it. You must finish a long rest before you can use this again.
Lantern of Returns (Lesser). If the Brain, or skull and brain of a Yalu are properly harvested one can use them to create a Lesser Lantern of Returns, also known as a Lantern of Penance. The lantern must be wielded or worn by a creature for at least a day, including during their sleep, in order for it to “attune” to them, allowing it to mentally connect to them. Once Attuned the Lantern of Returns has both the Skull Light and Lantern of Returns abilities from the Yalu’s list, allowing the wielder or wearer to utilize these abilities as if their own so long as the Lantern remains within 50 feet of them. If separated from the Lantern for more than a day it must be re-attuned.
The Lantern counts as both a magical artifact and an animal of the alignment it possessed in life. It has an AC of 5, and HP of 1, if injured it goes into saving throes as if an animal and so long as it has been attuned to someone it can be healed or resurrected as if an animal, if un-attuned it would require both someone with the tinker skill and someone using a resurrection spell in tandem to fix it. This object is formed from the remnants of an honorable Yalu and either used to light up an honorable township or given to a non Yalu ally as a token of good faith.
Random Height and Weight
|Sub-race||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Yalu||6′ 5″||+1d6||175 lb.||+2d10 lbs.|
|Dru Yalu||5′ 8″||+1d4||205 lb.||+2d8 lbs.|
|Aetherai||7′ 7″||+1d6||290 lb.||+2d12 lbs.|