Doltruc stared uneasily into the darkness. Something out there beyond the glow of the stones he was tossing on the stone floor of the cavern was moving. He couldn't see the walls or the ceiling; it was just darkness that could go on forever. There it is again. Doltruc snapped his head to the side. It was silent again. As his eyes strained to see into the shadows, he began to slowly make out a shape. With a sinking feeling, he traced the curving gleam upwards, filling out the image in his head. A tall, hulking figure, clad in blackened armor with polished trim, holding a wicked-looking stone club. The head, beneath the spiked helmet, was swallowed in shadow. But Doltruc could just imagine the gaping, fang-filled maw and large, milk-white eyes of the monster from the deep gnome's childhood nightmares: a Deepstalker.
The Deepstalkers are a race of savage, warlike Deep Folk that live in near complete blackness. They rarely come into contact with the other Deep Folk, instead spending their time focused on the complex rivalries between their own clans.
Deepstalkers are surprisingly tall for their subterranean environment. Some estimates put them around the height of an average human. They are much thinner, however, with long legs and arms and relatively short torsos, making them appear more monster-like than most folk. Deepstalkers are almost completely blind, finding their way through the darkness by smell, hearing, and touch instead. They are sensitive to light and often appear to other Deep Folk races in newly-explored tunnels and caverns, drawn to their lights like moths. Too much light can incapacitate a Deepstalker or send it flying into a mad rage. Deepstalkers have large mouths filled with needle-sharp teeth, which they use on their enemies to tear gaping, devastating wounds. Their fingers are tipped with equally sharp claws, but much shorter and thicker, allowing them to handle more delicate tasks with little issue.
Deepstalkers live in clans of ten to twenty individuals. They are deeply loyal to these clans and will sacrifice themselves for the greater good when necessary. Each clan has its own established camp, where the Deepstalkers live in small caves carved into the rock walls with intricate tunnel systems between them. Deepstalker children live deep within these honeycombs, guarded fiercely by designated caretakers.
These clans have complex and intense relationships with one another. It is practically unheard of for two clans to get along with one another. Instead, Deepstalkers wage wars with one another in the darkness, fighting brutally for resources, territory, and prisoners. Often these fights are to the death, and any dead are dragged off for burials below piles of loose stones. Deepstalkers forge weapons and armor of Deep steel to better defend from and attack one another. When other Deep Folk encounter a Deepstalker party armed with their brutal stone clubs, they know to flee far away, as Deepstalkers do not seem to care about collateral damage.
Deepstalkers have little contact with other Deep Folk. They understand Deep Common and can communicate effectively with other races, but typically remain silent and do not engage with the smaller races. Their warlike tendencies and terrifying appearances, however, have led to incredible amounts of fear from the other Deep Folk, which is only compounded by the tendency of Deepstalkers to attack anything they do are unfamiliar with, especially in the presence of higher light levels.