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Adorable Creatures: Otterling

Adorable Creatures: Otterling

OtterlingQuick-witted, devious, and ambitious, otterlings are a mischievous race that dwells in riverfront villages. They make natural craftsmen and nimble fighters on the battlefield. Meanwhile their grandiose ambitions often lead them to unlawfulness.

Otterlings are the second race in the Adorable Creatures series, following Garden Gnomes. As natural rogues and wizards, otterlings make powerful allies, often thinking outside the box and having a plan or at least the resources to get them out of any situation. However, their unethical practices and greed can put them at odds with more lawful party members.

For my campaigns, I wanted to create a culture of people who make their living off the black market or else are known for raising rogues and wizards. Though evil, otterling settlements see the value of good business and rarely attack good-doers on sight. This allows DMs to include otterling villages in good campaigns where party members can track down an enemy on the run, find new magical items, or find information on the shadier corners of the world.

For the race, I naturally drew inspiration from otters. They have a bonus in Swim checks and a penchant for crafting (otters are among the few animals to use tools). As otters have historically been used to help fishermen catch fish, I felt it would be an interesting addition for otterlings to have once been enslaved by humans. Thus otterlings are not prone to trusting humans, a race that is typically seen as a safe choice in character creation.

To learn more about otterlings, download the free PDF!

Otterling Racial Traits

Type: Humanoid (Otterling) 0 RP
+2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom: Otterlings are slippery in tongue and on the battlefield, however their ambitions often get the best of them. 0 RP
Medium: Otterlings are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size. 0 RP
Base Speed: Otterlings have a base speed of 30 ft. 0 RP
Swim: Otterlings swim at a base speed of 30 ft. They receive a +8 racial skill bonus on Swim checks. 2 RP
Hold Breath: Otterlings can hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to four times their Constitution score before risking drowning or suffocating. 1 RP
Fearless: Otterlings gain a +2 racial bonus on all saving throws against fear effects. 1 RP
Craft (Skill Bonus): Otterlings receive a +2 racial bonus on any one Craft or Profession skill. 2 RP
Merchant’s Eye (Skill Bonus): Otterlings receive a +2 racial bonus on Appraise skill checks. 2 RP
Weapon Familiarity: Otterlings are proficient with thrown weapons and slings and treat any weapon with the word “halfling” in its name as a martial weapon. 1 RP
Languages: Common. Otterlings with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Giant, Goblin, Halfling, and Orc. 0 RP
Total: 9 RP

7 thoughts on “Adorable Creatures: Otterling”

  1. “As otters have historically been used to help fishermen catch fish, I felt it would be an interesting addition for otterlings to have once been enslaved by humans.”

    Why is being enslaved interesting?

  2. Garrett,
    If your question is sincere, then I would propose the answer is that being enslaved provides a dramatic and uneasy historical context between otterlings and humans. RPGs offer us opportunities to ‘play’ with these notions and in so doing, keep the conversation about how much slavery sucks alive. There is certainly a risk of exploiting and trivializing these sensitive and important concepts when adding them to a game, but the rewards often outweigh the risks. I don’t think this article promotes the idea that slavery is frivolous or entertaining.

    There are many, many examples of how this practice has impacted our real world histories and I interpret the author’s use of the word ‘interesting’ as meaning rich and additive to the narratives we create in our game.

  3. Based on the comment about them being slippery of tongue, I wonder if a bonus to charisma rather than intelligence would be more fitting?

    Part of me wants to make them size Small, because a 5 foot tall otter just seems really really scary.

    These would be a great addition to the River Kingdom.

  4. Cool idea for an anthropomorphic race — I’ve never seen an otter-like race, before. The detail in the PDF is a nice touch.

  5. @Garrett: ‘Interesting’ may not have been the best word to use in that context. What I intended, as Jon pointed out, was that the historical enslavement of otterlings shows that while we may play in fantasy, there are still uncomfortable contexts we may be faced with, such as the stigmatizing of half-orcs in and out of orc society; ritualistic humanoid sacrifices; and other brutality. I apologize if the detail offends any readers, that was not my intention.

    @Ben: I certainly thought of giving otterlings a Charisma bonus over an Intelligence bonus, but in the end felt an Intelligence bonus better matches the race overall, owed to their general craftiness and flexbility off the battlefield (skill-wise). I will give the idea more thought for future editions.

    I also had otterlings as size small but after some research felt size medium made more sense. I imagine otterlings to be the approximate height of dwarves, who generally stand between 3’9″ and 4′ 5″. In the wild, certain species of otters are around this size, though some species can even grow upward of 5’9″. I do agree however, that a 5′ tall otterling would certainly be scary, haha. Thank you for your comments!

  6. Slavery is an uncomfortable reality that is touched on even it the Midgard CS. The problem here is probably that you mention it but don’t give much detail about it. So it might have been better to have kept such a hot-button issue solely in the pdf. Lessons learned, huh?

    I don’t like the Advanced Race Guide race-building rules. They are clunky and feel unbalanced, and seem to limit creativity. I encourage you to go outside their rule set, although I understand the need to be as official as possible. I fear that your Otterlings are boring, there isn’t a hook to really set them apart from a greedy halfling that’s playing up looking child-like (there’s even an official feat to do just that). For an untrusting and untrustworthy race of thieves and backstabbers there doesn’t really seem to be enough lightheartedness or cuteness to make them “Adorable”.

    If you’ll let me suggest some ideas. Like Ben said, slippery of tongue suggests Cha. So you might mention their mindfulness for details and give players a choice of +2 to Int OR Cha.

    Dwarves are small, but dense, which makes them medium. Your otterlings could be tall (long-bodied really) but light and be considered small. The height chart for Dwarf, the weight chart for Halflings. If not, consider a alternative racial trait or race trait that gives them an intimidate bonus.

    You say in the pdf that they can get obsessive. The gnome racial trait might be a better name than “Craft (Skill bonus)” since they provide the same bonus.

    Being so untrusting I don’t really get the “Fearless” trait. I suggest either a “second save after failed Will save vs. fear and/or enchantment” ability or drop it and give them resist elements instead.

    Drop weapon familiarity and give them a bite attack.

    The pdf mentions “arm pouches” this could be a good trait or racial feat.

    I very much liked your gnomes and I look forward to your next blog post!

  7. @Doomedpaladin Thank you for your feedback! I agree the Advanced Race Guide has its limitations. For the first iteration of these races I definitely want to keep to the book. I plan to expand and rework the races once I’ve completed the set (the current goal is 5 races), so I’ll certainly consider playing around with some custom traits of my own. I originally had a trait for otterlings that touched on their pocket.

    I was afraid the otterlings would come off too similarly to halflings. Will have to see in the future how to make them more unique :) I will definitely be expanding on the otterlings’ past enslavement, too. I agree I should have done more with that detail.

    Thank you again for your thoughts!

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