Karakhai are humanoid shark men. A few have assimilated into theOshamni Empire but most live in nomadic tribes of their own kind. Karakhai tribes are usually led by the mightiest warrior who is called the Khan In general all adults below the Khan theoretically considered equal but the words of bigger and stronger sharks are given more weight. If two Karakhai of the same social status have a disagreement they cannot talk out they will usually settle it with some kind of physical contest. A swimming race, a feat of strength contest, or nonlethal combat are all pretty common. Karakhai tribes typically vary between thirty and two hundred adult members. Outside of mating seasons, Karakhai tribes tend to either fight with each other or keep their distance. If different tribes need to interact peacefully, they will use Samearu as intermediaries. If the Samearu believe a major issue affects the Karakhai as whole, they can declare a School of Chieftains which is exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of chieftains having a meeting. It’s uncommon but sometimes a Chieftain will declare himself or herself a Grand Chieftain or Chieftain of Chieftain. At which point the other nearby chieftain either submit or fight back in a duel. It is not taboo for a would-be Grand Chieftain to face consecutive challengers. If a Grand Chieftain cannot fight at least two or three consecutive challengers, she is not worthy of the title. Thus Grand Chieftains are rare, unless it’s the "Grand Chieftain" of a mere two or three tribes. On average one in a hundred Karakhai are Samearu . Samearu must have at least one dot worth of divine magic to qualify for the title. The most popular spheres are Animal Power, Augmentation, Wrath, and Healing. No divine sphere is considered forbidden or discouraged, so Samearu may be found wielding all sorts of magic. As Maylar casters, Samearu get a -1 casting difficulty bonus for Animal, Hexing, and Wrath. Samearu are theurgists , not favored souls . They train new members in one-on-one apprenticeships. Any Karakhai that wants to join their ranks is free to ask a Sameraru to be his or her mentor, but they need to pass the demanding tests the Samearu puts before them. Fewer than one in a thousand Karakhai are favored souls. About half of the favored souls are favored souls of Maylar and the other half are favored souls of another deity. The latter of which are almost certainly outcasts or mavericks of Karakhai society. Even favored souls of Maylar often don't fit in well with other Karakhai. They are usually more focused on Maylar's grand goals rather than focused on aiding the Karakhai or any specific Karakhai tribe. Karakhai are rarely sorcerers or sorceresses. Maybe one in five hundred of them are born with the ability. Sorcerers are generally treated with respect, but they cannot be Samearu or chieftains. Karakhai sorcerers usually tend to favor the schools of Transmutation and Invocation. Diviners and Illusionists are are. Karakhai Sorcerers with Enchantment or Conjuration magic are practically unheard of. Maybe one or two tribes have Karakhai wizards if the tribes have unusually cordial relations with magic savvy Scaraquans of other races. Most Karakhai wizards studied under non-shark mentors. Karakhai wizards’ specialties are flipped from sorcerers. Illusionists, Conjurers, and Enchanters are common. Invokers and Transmuters are rare.
Karkahai are humanoid possessing two legs and two arms. Their feet are broad and webbed. Their hands are slightly webbed, but possess most of the manual dexterity of a human or merfolk hand. Karakhai have very broad shoulders. While their legs are powerful Karakhai are very much built for upper body strength and have roughly triangle shaped bodies far broader on the top than the bottom. They also possess a small mostly vestigial tail. It helps with swimming a bit, but most of their propulsion comes from their arms and legs. They also have mostly vestigial dorsal fins that help with balance while swimming but retract when the Karakhai is in a standing posture (though sometimes Karakhai will have their dorsal fins pop up unexpectedly when they think they can intimidate someone). Compared to most humanoids Karkahai have oversized heads, roughly twice as large as those of merfolk or humans. Karakhai heads are far more shark-like than they are humanlike. It varies on their ethncity. Isuran Karakhai resemble mako sharks, Sphyrnian Karakhai resemble hammerhead sharks, and Somnios Karakhai resemble Greenland sharks (though I'm sure they are called something different in Scarterra).
Growth Rate & Stages
At age ten, a Karakhai goes through a rite of passage to adulthood. This rite of passage varies from tribe to tribe but it’s always difficult and dangerous. About one in four Karakhai do not survive it. Those that survive are considered full members of the tribe though they are biologically adolescents. Karkahai reach their adult size and sexual maturity around age fourteen or fifteen. Females remain fertile through their early thirties, typically mating four or five times. Males tend to remain fertile till about age forty. Karakhai can theoretically survive past seventy, but few Karakhai are content to die in such an ignoble fashion. Once they start to show a significant decline in physical prowess around age fifty, most Karakhai will choose to die in an exciting and dangerous way. Some swim at the head of war parties. Others take on a powerful sea creature in single combat. Others swim off alone to die in private. This is called “Swimming towards Maylar.”
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Karakhai eye sight and hearing is comparable to most other Scaraquans, but Karakhai possess a keener sense of smell than most mortal Scarquans. While not as potent as full sharks, Karakhai can sense vibrations and electrical impulses in much the same manner. All things considered, Karkhai have the sharpest senses of any commonly seen mortal creature in the sea.
Civilization and Culture
Among most real world sharks, females tend to be noticeably bigger than males. Females tend to have significantly thicker skin than males. Karakhai females are a bit bigger and stronger and more thick-skinned than males on average. Because Karakhai believe in strength above all else, most Karakhai are matriarchal, About three out of four tribal chieftains are female. In general females are given deference. Each tribe is different. In some tribes females are the predominant warriors because they are bigger and stronger. In these tribes males still fight, but they take care of almost all of the non-martial chores. In other tribes, males are the predominant warriors because they are more expendable. In these tribes the females still fight, but they take care of nearly all the non-martial chores. Whatever the tribes overall attitude towards sex roles is, the chieftain is always expected to be at the forefront of war regardless if the chieftain is male or female.
Karakhai are not monogamous. Mating is relatively rare, occurring once every three years for a brief window. During this period, it’s not uncommon for Karakhai to have several partners. Karakhai females usually pick their mates and Karakhai females value strong males. A very accomplished male warrior could find himself with as many as a dozen mates in a single mating season. Karkhai courtship and mating is very violent and utterly terrifying to outsiders who witness it. There are lots of “love bites” on both partners. The period leading up to the mating season is very dangerous for the rest of Scaraquans. Karakhai tribes that normally avoid each other meet up more often since mating between tribes is encouraged to diversity the gene pool and avoid stagnation. Karakhai are also more aggressive towards outsiders in the months leading up to the mating season, especially males who want to be able to impress females with their martial exploits. Karakhai, like most sharks, give live birth. Karakhai females give birth to one (50%), two (40%) or three (10%) pups. Because Karakhai all mate at the roughly the same time, females give birth at roughly the same time. Pups are considered children of the entire tribe. Every Karakhai is considered a brother or sister of the Karakhai born during its tribe's birthing season. It is frowned on for a mother or father to show favoritism to their own offspring (and the nature of their mating makes establishing paternity difficult anyway). Adults will all work together to care and feed for the young though they certainly prescribe to notions of tough love. Some tribes encourage pups to fight each other savagely, others repress it. This often depends on the relatively scarcity or abundance of food.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Most sharks do not have gill flaps, so if they stop swimming, they suffocate. Karakhai do have gill flaps and like most Scaraquans, they have to sleep sometimes. That said, the Karakhai are not great at standing still, literally or figuratively. Forward motion is the Karakhai’s philosophical credo. Risk taking is encouraged. Stagnation is despised. A Karakhai that is actually bound or imprisoned will literally start to die. If a non-Karakhai defeats a Karakhai in fair combat, other Karakhai will rarely hold a grudge, but a non-Karakhai that kills a Karakhai by imprisoning her can expect to make an enemy of the entire Karakhai race. It’s like shaving a dwarves beard, and then choking the dwarf to death on his own beard hair. Their main credos are. “Might makes right,” “New is better than old.” “Boldness is better than caution.” "Change is good." Karakhai sum all their attitudes together under the credo "Always swim forward."
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Karakhai are going to be the children of Maylar's Scaraquan Aspect. Maylar created sharks to be the ultimate predator and later he created Karakhai to be the ultimate shark. Most Karakhai worship Maylar as their patron and parent. Most Karakhai whole heartedly accept Maylar’s credo that “Might makes Right.” Where Karakhai get into disagreement is what is the best fate for “the Weak”? Should the weak be slaves, food, or simply ignored? That’s the closest thing Karakhai have to theological debate. Most Karakhai will acknowledge the other deities besides Maylar but priests or theurgists not associated with Maylar are very rare. Some Karakhai pay the other deities no heed. A few hardliners show open contempt to all deities who are not Maylar or they just show contempt against Mera. Karakhai priests or priestesses of Maylar are called Samearu. About three out four Samearu are male. Most Samearu are generally celibate and Samearu generally live outside of the tribes. Karakhai are generally not materialistic, but Samearu tend to take to this an extreme. The shark equivalent of the bare foot hermit dressed in rags.
Karakhai view sharks as holy. They will not harm a shark unless their lives are directly threatened. Karakhai do not keep pets, but they usually let sharks enter and leave their camps freely. Assuming food is relatively plentiful, they are likely to feed any sharks that visit. Sharks will generally only attack Karakhai in truly desperate situations. In many cases, sharks provide an extra layer of defense to their camp as the sharks often spot intruders before the Karakhai do. If hunting is scarce, Karakhai will drive sharks away from their camps because they do not want to compete with sharks for prey, but killing sharks is generally considered sacrilege.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Since I have only developed a very bare bones assessment of Merfolk and the other Scaraquans aren’t even named, I cannot really go into details here. Suffice to say, Karakhai will frequently assault or demand tribute from other Scaraquans, but they are not mindless killers and savages. Karakhai are sapient beings that are capable of suppressing their murderous urges. Karakhai can be reasoned and negotiated with. Some tribes can established decades long peace with the more civilized Scaraquans. This behavior will rarely win the Karakhai friends among the more traditional minded Karakhai tribes, but since the peaceful tribes often have profitable trading deals, the peaceful tribes are often wielding the best weapons and armor, so they can win most skirmishes with other tribes assuming they aren’t grossly outnumbered.
Karakhai Game MechanicsAttributes: Karakhai have the same 1-5 spread on all nine attributes like most humanoids get. Shark Strength: Karakhai get a -1 difficulty bonus on non-magical Strength rolls Shark Endurance: Karakhai get a -1 difficulty bonus on all non-magical Stamina rolls apart from soak rolls. Karkhai sleep less than most humanoids, typically being fine with four hours of sleep per day. Shark Skin: Karakhai have thick skin and males get two soak dice against lethal damage. Females get three soak dice. These extra soak dice stack with their Stamina for resisting bashing damage. Shark Senses: Karakhai have wide peripheral vision, an excellent sense of smell, as well as electrical and lateral senses. Karakhai get a -2 difficulty break on all non-magical Alertness rolls in the water. Karakhai still enjoy a -1 bonus outside of the water. Shark Bite: Karakhai bites inflict Strength +2 lethal damage. The difficulty to hit is 7 for land combat, 6 for sea combat, and 4 if the target is engaged in a grapple first. You do not want to let a Karakhai grapple you. Electrical Discharge: Karakhai can not only receive electrical impulses but they can send electrical impulses to communicate with other Karakhai and to a lesser extent sharks and shark-like monsters. Range is roughly 500 yards in the water or a 100 yards outside the water. Messages have to be fairly simple. “Attack now!” works, but “Take the third detachment and swim around the barricade to hit the left flank of the merfolk pikemen!” is not something that can be relayed. A non-Karakhai with a very high Perception + Alertness dice pool might be able to tell when two or more Karakhai nearby are conversing via electrical discharges, but there is no way a non-Karakhai can eavesdrop on the conversation without magic. It’s rare to find a Karakhai with a silver tongue, but the few Karakhai that regularly negotiate civilly with other Scaraquans are usually clever enough to use their secret electrical communication to their advantage. This power can also help Karakhai who are magically invisible or simply swimming in the dark coordinate efforts. It is almost impossible for a Karakhai to accidentally hit an ally with friendly fire no matter how bad visibility gets. Shark Appearance: Use the Inverse Appearance rules for most interactions with non-shark people. It just so happens that Karakhai males and females alike find scary looking Karakhai sexy. So a Karakhai with a high Appearance is both terrifying to most humans and Merfolk appealing to Karakhai of the opposite sex, effectively using "normal" Appearance mechanics among their own kind. Shark Belligerence: Karakhai get a +1 difficulty penalty on all non-magical Charisma and Manipulation rolls with non-Karakhai, unless the roll is related to intimidation. Stubby Fingers: Karakhai get a +1 difficulty penalty on any rolls involving fine motor skills. Thus you don’t see a lot of master craftsmen among Karakhai. Always Forward: Karakhai get edgy if they have to metaphorically or figuratively stay in one place. When a Karakhai is feeling moderately constrained, he gets a +1 difficulty penalty on all rolls until he does something exciting and different. A Karakhai limited thusly cannot regain temporary Willpower points. A Karakhai that is literally bound or imprisoned completely takes one unsoakable level of lethal damage every day of confinement until they die or are set free.
Adult Karkahai tend to weight between 200 and 300 pounds on average. Females tend to weigh 20 to 30 pounds more than males on average, being more broadly built and having literally thicker skin than males.
Adult Karakhai typically range between 5 feet ten inches and 7 feet in length. They are perfectly capable of standing upright either on the surface of the sea floor or outside of the water but they usually slouch at least six inches. Females are roughly the same height/length as males, barely an inch taller on average.