Lands of Erdos
‘Dozens of bats flocked to the scene causing shouts of alarm. The bats coalesced together into a single spot and turned into a small hill of flapping wings and furry bodies. Then they turned into a black mass that quickly took the shape of a man.
“I told you he was back, you idiot!” Black Wind said to Aelthas as the stregoni transformed back to his true self.’
—Vass Detsikas, Shadows of Imperium
The aristocratic stregoni settled on Erdos over eight millennia ago, but they hail from a distant and forgotten world.
Originally a race of humanoids with wondrous divine powers, they are now afflicted by a dark curse of blood dependency (a ‘gift’ of Raelross, the dark god of the ruby elves). Despite this setback, they adapted and flourished yet again, becoming one of the major races of Erdos.
Their pre-curse ancestors—the Aldanelim Aeonians—are considered the pioneers of divine magic. Stregoni claim that clerics first appeared among them, before the gods bestowed this sacred gift to other peoples. Today however, stregoni turn more often towards the arcane—in part because they feel the gods have failed them, though they are not anti-god zealots.
Aside from some notable features, stregoni are physically identical to humans. Their skin is as white as snow (and not technically ‘pale’ despite their monicker) while their eyes have slit pupils like those of cats, and their colors range from yellow, orange, and red to gray or green. Their hair is either deep red, raven black, gray, white, or light blond. They have black fingernails and two pointy vampiric fangs.
Stregoni dress in elaborate and luxurious clothing, and all of them, from the greatest king to the least commoner, exude an aristocratic air. But even the most tame and noble stregoni has something predatory about him or her.
Though stregoni don’t take kindly to being called vampires, they are partly vampiric in nature due to their need to consume blood. However, they are not undead. They live and breathe and their hearts beat just like ordinary creatures, and with desires and vices common to all sentient beings.
Stregoni are by nature nocturnal creatures, but the sun does not harm them. Those who live in non-stregoni settlements have learned to rest during the night and work in the light of day.
Stregoni require a certain amount of blood every day in order for their bodies to process food effectively. However this blood needs not be of a humanoid. In fact, most stregoni consider the notion as abhorrent as cannibalism. For that purpose they use livestock as the prime source of blood. Stregoni warriors however have learned to accept that drinking the blood of their enemies is paramount to survival.
Adaptation to the Blood Curse has given the stregoni an unexpected gift; Blood Sorcery. Not to be confused with sorcerers born with the ability to cast arcane spells, Blood Sorcery is a unique form of innate spellcasting which enables stregoni to use the blood they drink to gain unique powers and abilities. It is from this ability that they came to be known as stregoni (sorcerers in the Aldanelian language).
Funeral rites are very important to the stregoni, primarily because there is a real need to burn the corpses of the dead lest they become vampires. Within stregoni settlements, there is always a form of Deathwatch—groups who check on the livelihood of people. There’s nothing worse than an old stregoni person to quietly die without anyone noticing, only to plague the community later as an undead. An undead stregoni is wholly corrupt and even his loved ones are nothing but prey.
As can be expected, stregoni are staunch opponents of any undead, but reserve a special loathing for vampires. However, there also a few, particularly vile individuals, who intentionally kill themselves to become vampires.
The Blood Curse
Five millennia ago, the elven god [[Religion & Philosophy | Raelross]] instigated a plot meant to dethrone Theléa, the matriarch of the elven pantheon. Part of his plan was to depower the greatest allies of the elves at the time, the aeonians. And so the Blood Curse came to pass.
Overnight, the hapless aeonians discovered that ordinary food and water was not enough to sustain them—their metabolism mystically locked off—and they inevitably started dying from starvation. More horrible still was that after death, their corpses rose as evil undead and thirsty for the blood of the living; the original true vampires.
In the chaos that ensued, the survivors made a startling discovery. Taking a cue from the vampires, they discovered that consuming blood unlocked their biological functions and they were again able to subsist on food and water. After the Elfwar ended and Raelross was defeated, the cursed aeonians sought help from the gods. But none could reverse the dark gift.
The United Stregoni Nation
The term ‘Aldanelim Aeonians’—or simply aeonians—used to describe the pre-curse ancestors of the stregoni, is a bit of a neologism as they were in fact two separate nations, the Aldanelim and the Aeonians. Culturally similar but not identical, they were divided primarily by language. Over the centuries, and particularly after the Blood Curse, the two nations became more and more homogenized to the point where non-stregoni can hardly tell them apart.
This is exemplified in the formation of the United Stregoni Nation, in north-west Limoch. Commonly called Eranhein, after the name of its capital city, the USN is the largest and most influential stregoni kingdom. Its ruler, Queen Eliza Von Redlore, is considered the de facto sovereign of every living stregoni on Erdos. Even lesser stregoni states, geographically far removed from Eranhein, pay ultimate allegiance to the Queen and their rulers are dukes and grand dukes, but never kings.
The semi-independent dukedoms are usually in the form of city-states. Perhaps the most known of them is the city-state of Lordonor, in Athanor, ruled by the legendary Prince Damian Von Redlore, heir apparent to the Ebony Throne of Eranhein.
Stregoni states have a reverse timetable. Citizens there rest during the day and work during the night.
The Blood Curse has bestowed on your character several unique traits common to all stregoni.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution Score increases by 2.
Age. Stregoni reach physical maturity as fast as humans and can live up to be 300 years old.
Alignment. Stregoni tend more towards law rather than chaos. They are generally neutral as a society, but individuals tend more towards goodness rather than evil.
Size. Stregoni height ranges from 5 feet to over 6 feet tall. They don’t vary much in weight due to the nature of their metabolism. Your size is Medium.
Speed. 30 feet.
Darkvision. Being nocturnal by nature, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Predatory Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
Blood Curse. Whenever you receive a healing effect (except from Blood Healing) you only regain half the amount of hit points (minimum 1) unless you spend a hit die when you receive the effect (you gain no extra healing from the hit die). This requires no action, but you cannot do it if you are incapacitated.
You do not receive the benefits of a long rest unless you have fed with blood in the last 12 hours. You also do not gain the benefits of normal food if you don’t also drink blood on a daily basis, meaning you can suffer the effects of starvation without blood even if you regularly eat food (you still need regular food and water even if you drink blood).
If you are killed and your corpse is not destroyed completely (burned, disintegrated, etc) then it animates as an undead evil vampire after 7 days.
Blood Dice. You gain 2 bonus hit dice. These are d8s. These hit dice do not add to you Hit Point maximum. As long as you’ve fed with blood in the past 12 hours, you regain your full hit dice when you take a long rest, instead of only half.
Blood Drain. When you have grappled a creature, you can use a bonus action to bite and drain blood from it. The target must succeed on a Constitution save or suffer 1d4 + your Constitution modifier damage. The DC for this saving throw is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier. If the target fails this saving throw, you regain 1d4 Hit Dice.
You can only target living humanoids and beasts, though your DM may make exceptions if it makes sense (like any monstrosity that would reasonably have potable blood). You can also feed from a freshly killed corpse provided you did not use Blood Drain on it in the past day. You only regain a single Hit Die from each corpse. You gain 2 hit dice if the corpse is large, 3 if it’s huge, and 4 if it’s gargantuan.
If you use this ability on a willing (or unwilling) Player Character, in addition to the damage taken, the target also loses as many hit dice as you regain.
Drinking blood from a corpse that has been dead for more than 1 minute or from any other source, does not restore your hit dice (but still counts as feeding for the benefits of long rest).
Blood Sorcery. You can use the blood you have stored inside of you (in the form of Hit Dice) to fuel several magical abilities called Blood Sorceries. You begin play knowing one Blood Sorcery chosen from the Blood Sorceries detailed at the end of the race’s description (the most typical choice is Blood Healing, but you are free to choose a different one). Whenever your class enables you to gain an Ability Score Increase, you can instead choose one of the available Blood Sorceries. You must meet any prerequisite specified in a Sorcery to take it. Some of the sorceries also confer with an increase to an ability score regardless of whether you activate them or not.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Athanish, and the two stregoni languages; Aldanelian, and Aeonic. Stregoni tend to favor the language of their subrace, but they often use both interchangeably when they talk to each other. There is a common wisdom that claims that when a stregoni wishes to sound authoritative he speaks in Aeonic, and when he wishes to sound more casual he speaks in Aldanelian.
Subrace. The two nations of stregoni make up the two available subraces. They are the aldanelian stregoni and the aeonic stregoni. The differences between the two are subtle and barely noticeable to outsiders.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
You can use your action to heal your wounds. Spend (and roll) a number of Hit Dice up to half your level (minimum 1 Hit Die) and add your constitution modifier to the total. The result is the number of hit points you heal.
Prerequisite: 7th level
You can spend 3 Hit Dice and cast gaseous form without any components and with you as the spell’s target. Alternatively you spend 3 hit dice and cast polymorph with you as the target, but you can only turn into a Swarm of Bats, or a Swarm of Rats.
Prerequisite: 5th level
Your Dexterity increases by 1. You can spend 3 Hit Dice and cast haste without any components and with you as the spell’s target.
Might of the Dragon
Your Strength increases by 1. You can use your action to spend 2 Hit Dice and enhance your Strength for up to a minute (this requires your concentration but you can’t lose it due to taking damage or suffering distractions). While thus enhanced, your melee weapon attacks deal +2 damage and you have advantage on Strength ability checks and Strength saving throws.
Also, until this effect ends, whenever you hit with a melee weapon attack, you can spend a number of Hit Dice up to half your level. You roll these dice and receive the result as a bonus to the damage you deal with that attack.
You can use this ability only once before you finish a short or long rest.
You can use blood drain on an enemy from a distance. Blood flies in the air in streams and streaks towards your open mouth.
When a living humanoid or beast within 20 feet of you suffers slashing or piercing damage, you can use your reaction to use siphon blood from a distance. This works just like Blood Drain, but without the need to have the target grabbed. Much like Blood Drain, the DM may allow for targets other than living humanoids and beasts if it makes sense.
Fortitude of the Predator
Prerequisite: 7th level
Your Constitution increases by 1. You can spend 3 Hit Dice and cast stoneskin without any components and with you as the spell’s target.