Strix

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Strix

Now we know why the Hellknights didn’t follow us into Devil’s Perch. We were surrounded by these horrible, winged creatures within an hour of entering the range. They killed some of the Bellflower agents at the front of the group before we even knew what was going on. One of them tried to defuse the situation, to take a diplomatic tack, but the language barrier made it diffcult. The moment she said the word “slaves” in Infernal, the creatures set upon us like a pack of flying wolves. By the time they were done, the nine agents who’d helped us escape captivity were dead. The creatures marched us blindfolded the rest of the way through Devil’s Perch to the coast where your ship was waiting. None of us had the courage to try to explain what really happened.
— From the journal of Bellflower Network agent Varnos Thirr

Introduction

Strix
A strix.
Creature
Type Humanoid
(strix)
CR By class level
Environment Temperate mountains
Alignment Neutre
Adjective Strix
source The Inner Sea World Guide ( 313)

Hidden in their aeries high in the treacherous tors of Cheliax’s Devil’s Perch region, strix have long presented an enigmatic danger for humans. Tales of vicious, territorial strix savagely killing travelers who wander into their domain are common fare told around campfres and tavern hearths. However, the truth regarding strix, and the reasons behind their insular and challenging nature, is more complex. Even the name strix is a misnomer, for strix refer to themselves as the itarii.

Strix have lived in the Devil’s Perch region since at least the end of the Age of Darkness, but the history of their people is shrouded in mystery by the upheaval of that bleak time. Scholars and explorers alike have attempted to understand these winged strangers since Aspex the Even-Tongued frst encountered them during the EvenTongued Conquest. Even now, centuries removed from that unique moment of cooperation between human and strix, little is known about this secretive people.

GENESIS

Somewhere beyond a veil of superstition and myth lies the story of strix’s origin far across the Inner Sea: a tale of subjugation and revolution, exile and hardship. This truth is unknown to the strix of the Inner Sea region, lost to thousands of years of darkness, ignorance, and strife among their kind. Wherever they came from, whatever truth is hidden in the stories passed down among their people, the strix of Devil’s Perch may never know. The fragmentary nature of strix history stems from their tradition of oral storytelling and paucity of accurate written record-keeping, especially in their people’s ancient past. The further back strix history goes, the more vague and incomplete the record becomes, as metaphors and poetic fables fll the stories. Worse yet for scholars is the fact that each clan of strix tells slight variations of its origin story, with differing timelines. Some variations imply that strix lef their ancestral home before the Age of Darkness, while others hold that the coming of the Age of Darkness brought about their exile. Still others suggests a gradual migration over thousands of years, beginning just prior to the Age of Darkness and ending before its close.

The most common telling of strix’s origin is spun as one of jealousy and exile. Called Korrsat Akra in their tongue, or “The Scattered Nest,” the story outlines a history of strix as a powerful and prideful race of hunters living in an ideal land called Sharat Ce-Ar, the Sky Garden. There they flourished and cohabited with many other races as equals, sharing all that they had in abundance. One such race, known to strix only as the shokir, or “betrayers,” used the strix’s trust and generosity against them. The shokir are described as jealous creatures who envied strix’s strength and beauty, and who possessed strange and terrible powers that allowed them to conjure a violent, magical storm that destroyed the sun and tore the strix from Sharat Ce-Ar. The storm purportedly deposited the strix in an inhospitable and remote wasteland, and the shokir cursed the strix to walk this wasteland until the sun ceased to rise in the sky.

Strix claim that while in these wilds, they lost their beauty and grace, becoming twisted by the dark spaces they inhabited until they came to act as little more than beasts. The legend states that when darkness receded from the skies and the sun shone again, they had wandered so far that they came to lofy and forbidding peaks. Atop these mountains, the strix settled and found themselves returning to normalcy, their minds no longer clouded with savagery. Strix believe that their curse was lifed with the return of the sun, though the effect the harsh wilderness had on their forms would forever remain.

While strix have since developed written language, it is highly uncommon among their people. Furthermore, taboos against writing down their race’s history—which they keep secret from outsiders—prevent it from being recorded by the few who are capable of writing it down. Curiously, paintings found in sea caves near Corentyn in Cheliax appear to illustrate a version of the story told in the Korrsat Akra and match the styles of ancient paintings in high mountain caves in the southern reaches of the Mindspin Mountains between Nidal and Molthune.

While there are no known strix settlements in this range, scholars suggest that small bands of ancient strix may have temporarily spread through these regions long ago. They might also have migrated there from Devil’s Perch and been met with hostility and violence that wiped out any existing traces of their culture. Further evidence contradicting the Korrsat Akra comes from images on scrolls of a strange leather found in the library of Iadara in Kyonin, depicting black-and-gray fgures with immense wings and mysterious masks taking part in society. These ancient documents, dating back to the time of Earthfall, have led to speculation of a relationship with winged humanoids closely resembling strix among the people of Azlant and the elves of Adarshavir. Some claim that the fgures represented in these scrolls are not strix at all, but are instead depictions of the syrinx, fabled masters of the strix who are said to live in towering aviary-cities across the sea and to be responsible for making strix what they are today.

Strix

Outside historical perspective on strix is limited to the ancient cultures that may have dealt with the winged folk. Records from the Jistka Imperium retrieved from the ruins of Rachikan indicate that the Jistkans were aware of the presence of a winged humanoid race in Devil’s Perch, but afer several attempts to make contact failed, the efforts were abandoned. It was these records that informed Aspex the Even-Tongued in his attempts to contact and negotiate with the strix during the Even- Tongued Conquest of 4081 ar when Cheliax battled Taldor for independence. Historical records fail to indicate the terms of Aspex’s arrangement with the strix were, only relating that Aspex was able to convince them to join the war against Taldor. Aspex then honored their request to be lef alone following the conclusion of their limited aid. Honoring this request was made easy by the fact that the rough terrain and the difculty of traversing the rugged land in great numbers meant there was no push for humans to settle in Devil’s Perch.

In the centuries since Aspex’s contact with the strix, few Chelaxians have had close dealings with the residents of Devil’s Perch. Relations soured considerably with the western expansion of Cheliax in unflinching defance of Aspex’s original agreement of noninterference with the strix. Settlements close to Devil’s Perch, such as Pezzack, have been attacked time and again when tensions between the strix and locals reach a boiling point. These hostilities further both the stereotype among humans that strix are violent and unpredictable creatures and the stereotype among strix that all outsiders are untrustworthy and dangerous, allowing continued resentment to flourish. (For a more detailed look at interactions between strix and humans, see the Pathfnder Tales novel Nightglass by Liane Merciel.)

ECOLOGY

While strix outwardly appear comparable to winged elves in physiology, this similarity belies the fact that strix’s inner working are far removed from the biology of most humanoids. Strix share more in common with birds—specifcally owls—than they do with most humanoid races. A strix’s eyes are not spherical, but rather more like the elongated ocular tubes found in most breeds of owls. This shape is a part of why strix have such keen eyesight, but also leaves them unable to move their eyes, resulting in a stare that is fxed in their sockets. This requires strix to move their heads in order to change their feld of view, making them prone to sudden and erratic head motions that are unsettling to people unaccustomed to strix’s presence.

Strix’s eyes seem to be a solid red or deep yellow on casual observation; however, this appearance is created by a nictitating membrane over strix’s eyes—a third eyelid that moves horizontally across the eyeball to close. This milky white membrane protects the eyes from drying out while in flight, and cleans their surfaces of dust and debris. It also assists in strix’s ability to see in low-light conditions, something essential for their nocturnal life cycle. This eyelid is visible briefly when a strix blinks. To casual observers, a strix’s eyes closely resemble those of an elf, with enlarged irises that fll nearly the whole socket and no visible sclera.


Strix

A strix’s diet consists primarily of whatever meat can be hunted from the surrounding environment, supplemented with collected berries and nuts when in season. Some strix even eat the flesh of humanoids, but this rarity occurs primarily in desperate times or among more sinister clans as part of vile rites.

Childbearing is an important part of strix culture. Dangerous living conditions and low birthrates keep strix populations low, so every birth is met with a celebration. Strix parents are ferociously protective of their newborns, and entire clans rally around successful births and help ensure that the young are given every opportunity to survive and succeed. Mothers take over the role as caregivers, though more ofen than not whole clans come together to take part in raising the young. Though they don’t recognize any ofcial rites of marriage, strix ofen choose one mate for life, and fnd great difculty in pairing again if separated by death. A clan’s spiritual leader, or rokoa, is forbidden from taking a mate because of centuries-old customs whose origins are long forgotten. However, the rokoa is polyamorous and participates in unions with multiple strix males. While such events rarely produce offspring because of the advanced age of most rokoa, those that do only ever produce female strix who are raised by their entire clan—this is seen as part of the clan’s duty to its rokoa. These strix ofen mature to become powerful rokoa in their own right.

SOCIETY

While strix’s Korrsat Akra has questionable historical value, its importance to the development of strix society is indisputable. The tale is used as justifcation for the insular and xenophobic nature of strix society and the close-knit, clannish nature of their social structure. Strix have a frm belief that the only people they can trust are themselves; a history of miscommunication, fear, and outright betrayal has helped cement this notion. Hateful toward humans for their centuries-long advance into Devil’s Perch, strix have come to call the Chelish—and by extension all humans—kotaara, a particularly distasteful epithet. Strix view all humans through the lens of their own society, believing that humanity is as close-knit as strix culture, and that one human’s misdeeds are representative of normal human behavior.

Roughly a dozen clans of strix live in the Devil’s Perch region, each with its own culture and social taboos, yet strix were not always so divided. As doubt and suspicion became deeply ingrained in their culture, so too did the smallest of slights between different clans come to be perceived as part of a more grievous and impending betrayal. These misunderstandings have resulted in generations of cold relations between clans, and are ofen the impetus of divergent clans splitting off to achieve independence and escape perceived threats. Deeply seated cynicism has created a complex system of social cues and behaviors that clans utilize when interacting with one another in order to ensure they are received as being honest and sincere. The strix language has many different forms of the word “honest” but only a single word for “deceit.”

In spite of this complicated social web, strix are quick to rally together when facing a threat from outside their culture. Strix have a phrase that roughly translates to “the blood of outsiders falls faster than the blood of kin”; it reflects an important social contract among strix that all conflicts between strix must be set aside when their kind is confronted by an external threat or other injustice. To those on the receiving end of a strix warband or hunting party, this monolithic response supports the misconception that strix are more of a united people than they are in truth.

The hierarchy of strix culture is centered on each clan’s rokoa, the matriarchal spiritual leader and story-keeper of an entire clan. Rokoa are chosen from among strix who are able to form a bond with powerful patron spirits and commune with them through animals, typically via shamanism and witchcraf. A rokoa is trained from a young age by the clan’s current rokoa with the intention of replacing her at her death. She learns her clan’s oral history to the exclusion of all other points of view, understanding that only her clan’s perspective is “true.” Each clan ofen has two or three rokoa in training at any one time, and the eldest rokoa trainee is almost always the one chosen to replace the predecessor. It is a rokoa’s job to appoint healers, midwives, and other positions of importance to a clan from among the most trusted in the group. These appointments always replace any extant members of the clan in these positions, and frequently occur when a rokoa dies and her appointed trainee assumes her role. Unlike in other societies, strix do not typically perceive being removed from one of these prestigious positions during the changing of rokoa as a slight. Rather, it is viewed as an honor, a reward for diligently performing one’s duty to the clan.

The rokoa serves as the ultimate arbiter of justice within strix society. Though most interpersonal conflicts are settled without the intercession of the clan’s spiritual leader, some offenses merit such scrutiny. Two crimes in particular warrant the harshest of punishments from a rokoa. In the extremely rare instance of a strix murdering another of his kind, he is labeled a paashrat or “less than dead.” Such criminals are cursed by their rokoa, their wings are amputated, and they’re hobbled and lef for dead in the lowlands of Devil’s Perch. In some clans, dealing with outsiders or divulging secrets of strix society, such as the details of the Korrsat Akra, are also unforgivable acts. Betrayal of this nature results in the offending strix being labeled a navaatra, or “forsaken.” Navaatra are branded or scarred on their faces, and exiled from Devil’s Perch. They are never spoken of by their names in any clans afer their exile, as if they had never existed. Some clans have taken to the practice of clipping the wings of navaatra, making it more difcult for them to fly and further distinguishing their appearances. Navaatra who return to strix territory are killed on sight.

Most strix don’t expend much effort on worshiping particular gods, and instead view religion through the same lens of distrust and suspicion through which they view society. They see themselves as a cursed race, and believe that the storm that carried them from their homeland to deposit them where they now live also carried them from the world of the gods. Now they rely on the strength and power of their ancestors, retelling their stories in order to make the clans strong and wise. They believe that only through understanding their own circumstances and respecting their ancestors’ lives will they fnd freedom from this ancient curse. A clan’s rokoa is the closest thing a strix clan has to a religious leader, and members accept that the rokoa may channel or otherwise have access to the stories and memories of strix who came before.

Perhaps as a result of their lack of religion, strix view death with a sense of fnality at odds with their intellectual knowledge of the aferlife and the cycle of souls. The death of a strix is viewed with great sadness and remembrance. Strix funerary practices involve the burial of the dead in rich soil so that their remains can give back to the land, which will in turn give back to strix. The bones of dead strix are retrieved afer nature has cleaned them and handed down to the surviving family members. These bones are fashioned into weapons, talismans, and fetishes. Few natural materials are both as strong and as light as a strix’s bones. Mourning periods for strix can last weeks and are observed by all members of the deceased’s clan, and ofen neighboring clans as well—death, like an outside threat, is an event that can unite the normally fractious strix clans. Inversely, strix treat the bodies of kotaara with contempt, leaving them to rot where they fall.

While strix acknowledge that the spirits of some of their kind linger in the world afer death as undead, they see undead as dedicated members of their respective clans who refused to succumb to death, rather than aberrations of the natural cycle. While no contemporary examples are known to exist, legends persist among the strix that tell of an ancient clan called the Katesh, “Those Who Remember,” whose members transformed themselves into vampires. Strix believe the Katesh attempted to claim dominance among the clans, but the combined power of several rokoa resisted their aggression and drove the Katesh from Devil’s Perch. Not all strix clans acknowledge this tale, however, and no historical evidence exists to support the myth.

Strix’s language is a creole of Infernal and Azlanti. People capable of speaking either Infernal or Azlanti are thus able to engage in basic communication with strix, though the nuances of this complex language are largely lost on foreign speakers. The historical roots of this creole tongue are a mystery. There is no record of the language’s evolution over the millennia, but the strix claim it changes rapidly, as they frequently add new terminology and honorifcs concocted among multiple clans, suggesting that the contemporary strix language spoken in the Devil’s Perch area and the tongue they spoke before their exodus to Avistan are unlikely to be mutually intelligible.

LAIRS

Most strix settlements are constructed vertically, built both inside and outside the stone spires common in the Devil’s Perch area. While each clan has its own aesthetic for carving rock and working wood and stone, most of these aeries share a common architectural theme that relies on flight for navigation from structure to structure. Some clans construct external nest-hives from sinew, leather, vines, and other salvaged materials, while clans with access to sofer stone, metal tools, or specialized magic carve out dwellings inside natural caves. Strix typically sleep indoors during daytime hours in individual roosts.

They carve these roosts into preexisting stone or make them out of shaped wood, then pad them with leather, hide, and animal fur. A strix roost is a depression analogous in shape to that of a hollow in a tree. Strix sleep in a fetal position with their wings folded around themselves and their faces hidden. When endangered or threatened with constant attack, strix disperse their roosts to prevent the slaughter of multiple sleeping strix. While strix are nocturnal, every clan keeps dayguards to watch over sleepers.

Social spaces for strix are typically found atop high rock towers or mountaintops in remote areas difcult to reach on foot. These inaccessible places are adorned with statuary, woodcarvings, scrimshaw, and other art dating back to the clan’s founding. In caves near the top of these rocky spires, rokoa tell the stories of their clans and artisans adorn the smoothed walls with cave paintings, adding to or adjusting faded, ancient images lef by their ancestors. The open spaces atop the rocky pillars are ofen used for concerts in which strix musicians play haunting notes on their ashikans, wind instruments carved from horn or shaped wood. Drums and other jingling percussion instruments accompany these performances, and the songs can be heard for miles. Because of such sites’ inaccessibility, such distant notes are most non-strix’s only exposure to strix’s appreciation for art and history.

STRIX ON GOLARION

The most famous strix settlement in the Inner Sea region is Ciricskree, located in Devil’s Perch in western Cheliax. While it is common knowledge that strix inhabit many regions within Devil’s Perch, the exact number of strix and clans has never been recorded; it is estimated that only a thousand or so of their kind exist on Avistan’s shores. Stories of hidden strix settlements along Cheliax’s western coast beyond Devil’s Perch are favored yarns of sailors and soldiers alike, though such strix settlements remain elusive.

For generations, rumors have claimed that some strix live beyond the borders of Cheliax within the remote Napsune Mountains in Rahadoum. A sighting tends to crop up once every generation, leading to a frenzied rush by monster hunters and scholars alike to track down these elusive creatures. No search for strix in Rahadoum has ever turned up substantial evidence to support their existence, and many believe these sightings are of different creatures altogether. If strix do live in the warm and rocky mountains, they have done an exceptional job of hiding their presence, and are either unknown to the strix of Cheliax or purposefully forgotten outcasts.

If strix’s ancient stories are true, large numbers of strix can be found across the Arcadian Ocean on the continent of Arcadia. Some of these strix may still be thralls of the enigmatic syrinx.

STRIX RULES INDEX

A number of options are available to strix characters. Strix frst appeared in the bestiary of Pathfnder Adventure Path #25: The Bastards of Erebus, and their statistics are reprinted on page 313 of Pathfnder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide.

Strix FeatS

The following feats are found on page 53 of Pathfnder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Monster Codex: Buffeting Wings (Combat), Cloak of Feathers, Fling (Combat), Graceful Flier, Powerful Wings (Combat), and Snatch and Drop (Combat)

The Stretched Wings feat is found on page 201 of Pathfnder RPG Advanced Race Guide.

alternate racial traitS

The following alternate racial traits are found on page 200 of the Advanced Race Guide: dayguard, frightening, nimble, tough, and wing-clipped.

racial archetype

The airborne ambusher archetype is found on page 201 of the Advanced Race Guide.

Strix equipment

Strix employ snag nets to capture prey. This item is found in the Advanced Race Guide on page 201.

Strix magic item '

The stonemist cloak on page 201 of the Advanced Race Guide is used by strix to remain hidden.

Strix Spell

The strong wings spell on page 201 of the Advanced Race Guide is particularly useful for strix characters.

Strix race trait The aerial harrier race trait for strix is found on page 199 of Pathfnder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races.

Strix racial trait

The cautious brawler racial trait is found on page 216 of Inner Sea Races.

STRIX FAVORED CLASS OPTIONS

The following favored class options are available for strix characters. Additional favored class options for strix characters with levels in barbarian, fghter, monk, and ranger can be found on page 200 of Pathfnder RPG Advanced Race Guide.

Bloodrager: Increase the bloodrager’s total number of bloodrage rounds per day by 1.

Brawler: Add 1/4 to the brawler’s effective class level to determine her unarmed strike damage.

Druid: Add a +1/2 bonus to Knowledge (nature) checks related to weather and flying animals.

Hunter: Add 1 hit point to the hunter’s animal companion. If the hunter replaces her animal companion, the new animal companion gains these bonus hit points. Oracle: Add one spell known from the oracle spell list.

This spell must be at least 1 level below the highest spell level the oracle can cast.

Shaman: Add 1/2 to the shaman’s effective class level for the purpose of determining her spirit animal’s natural armor adjustment, Intelligence, and special abilities. Slayer: Increase the studied target bonus on Perception and Survival checks by 1/4. When the slayer gains the stalker class feature, the slayer also gains this increase to the studied target bonus on Stealth checks.

Witch: Add one spell from the witch spell list to the witch’s familiar. This spell must be at least 1 level below the highest spell level the witch can cast. If the witch ever replaces this familiar, the new familiar knows these bonus spells.

References

Paizo published the article "Ecology of the Strix" in The Kintargo Contract.