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Zahajin (singular and plural) are mostly humanoid, with a blend of various traits reminiscent of aquatic life—stinging anemone-tentacle “hair”, lionfish spines, soft brightly- colored skin or transparent flesh, and numerous other possibilities. They bear vestigial finned arms along their legs, and often display other additional (and frequently non-functional) limbs. Among the zahajin, gender is a varied and complex concept, and blending of what humans see as gendered traits in individuals is extremely common.

This race of ichthyic humanoids exist today as the result of millennia of fey influence and aetherite exposure. The Darkwild is a tangle of roots and cliffs, steep tunnels and rushing rivers. As a result, the zahajin have evolved into unparalleled climbers and swimmers.

They easily cling to surfaces smoother than water-slicked limestone, and their twisting legs make them powerful swimmers. Zahajin are unaccustomed to flat land, where they move carefully. In all cases, the movement of zahajin is lithe and sensuous, thanks to fey influence.

Most Zahajin cannot survive without near-constant exposure to aetherite radiation. This isn’t just a physical malady; zahajin are addicted to the crystallized ley-lines’ psychic resonance. In its absence, zahajin quickly become sullen and unstable as their perception of reality warps and their intoxicating dreams fade. In time, they lapse into nightmare-haunted comas, writhing in pain until their aetherite-deprived organs fail.

Society: Zahajin society is a chaotic throng of hunter-gatherer tribes. Some are nomadic, wandering the layers of the Darkwild, while others settle villages among the tree- roots and tunnels. Most tribes are led by spellcasters; these are mostly mystics. The unquestioned rulers of the zahajin, however, are the fey lords. Many tribes pay homage to them, both individually and collectively, and individual zahajin view them with an almost religious awe. For their part, the fey lords are neither aloof nor distant, mixing with their subjects as the whim takes them; numerous fey bloodlines among the zahajin are testament to their attention.

In addition to the fey lords, zahajin revere aetherite itself, which they call ajiah,“dreaming together.”In places, they create marvelous and exotic shrines to the crystal—twisting lattices and spirals, forests of crystal “trees”, and many others—while in other places, they harness its telekinetic potential to create powerful traps or bridges and walls of invisible force.

For sustenance, zahajin rely on hunting, aetherite radiation, and various gathered flora and fungi; their society has little concept of agriculture. Zahajin swarm along the tunnel walls and ceilings of the Darkwild when on the hunt, using their instinctual sensitivity to aetherite emanations to follow and corner prey. Most can unerringly find their way among the maze of tunnels using this psychic instinct.

Zahajin culture is highly encouraging of creative and artistic pursuits and they are fascinated by pleasing designs or beautiful songs, eagerly sharing their works among their own kind. Their creativity is fueled both by desire for their fey masters’ attention and by the dream-trances that zahajin experience instead of mundane sleep. Some seek out intoxicating substances to intensify these dreams, while others commune with aetherite deposits in search of inspiration.

Due to traditions formed in the wake of the ancient war, internecine bloodshed is uncommon and frowned upon; zahajin are deeply loath to slay their own. Instead, social warfare is common, whether between tribes or individuals. A wronged zahajin might seduce away a rival’s lover or turn the tribe against a rival through persuasive oration. Magically talented zahajin often enchant or curse those who have wronged them. These principles apply in intertribal conflict as well; a tribe’s mystics might charm rival tribes’ warriors away or dominate rival leaders.

Relations: The only (known) Material culture to which the zahajin have any connection is the erahthi, against whom they bear millennia-old resentment. This hatred is fueled by the zahajin collective consciousness, which is still plagued by haunting memories of their slaughter. Additionally, the fey lords’ recollection of that ancient war is forever fresh—memories of the butchering of their zahajin, the deaths of their fellow fey, and of the emotional echoes of fear and hate resounding through the psychically-charged Darkwild. This drives many of the fey lords to paranoia, watching vigilantly for threats from above; in the wake of erahthi aetherite-harvesting during the Century War, the fey lords ready their zahajin for battle.

Racial Traits

Ability Adjustments: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis

Hit Points: 4

Size and Type: Zahajin are Medium humanoids with the aquatic and zahajin subtypes.

Aetherite Radiation Dependency: Zahajin require near constant exposure to aetherite radiation. A zahajin needs to be exposed to low aetherite radiation or higher for at least one hour per day, or risk exhibiting symptoms akin to aetherite sickness on a failed DC 18 Fortitude saving throw against aetherite radiation, as though they were in the impaired state. On a successful saving throw, the DC increases by a cumulative +2 on the following day up to a maximum of +8, unless the zahajin is exposed to sufficient aetherite radiation, in which case the DC resets. If a zahajin is not exposed to aetherite radiation for 4 days, they automatically incur symptoms akin to aetherite sickness. The DC to withstand these symptoms is equal to the current saving throw DC against aetherite radiation to avoid exhibiting the symptoms. The effects of aetherite radiation dependency are not subject to aetherite radiation immunity and persist until the zahajin is exposed to a sufficient source of aetherite radiation for at least one hour. After one hour of exposure to sufficient aetherite radiation, the symptoms of aetherite sickness end and the saving throw DC is reset to the default value. If using zahajin in a setting where aetherite does not exist, the GM should replace this need with a different element, energy, or substance that is generally available but still must be acquired and consumed on a regular basis.

Aetherite Radiation Immunity: Zahajin are immune to the effects of aetherite radiation.

Aetherite Sense: Zahajin can see aetherite radiation as warm trails of colorful wisps. A zahajin can track creatures that are currently suffering from aetherite radiation sickness, even if they otherwise would not leave a discernible trail. They see creatures currently suffering from aetherite radiation sickness as though having blindsight (life) 60 ft.

Amphibious: Zahajin can breathe both fresh water and air.

Movement: Zahajin have a land speed of 20 feet, but get a swim speed of 40 ft.

Aetherite Dependency: The dependency on aetherite radiation is a crucial component of zahajin lore and culture. That being said, if you want a more player-friendly version of the zahajin, consider using the following alternate race trait:

Mark of the Exile: Zahajin exiled from society are sometimes branded with a quasi-magical brand that strips away what most would consider the essence of being a zahajin. Such zahajin lose aetherite radiation immunity and aetherite radiation dependency, instead gaining a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against aetherite radiation. They lose expert climber but retain aetherite sense. However, the process changes zahajin biology, making the once comforting, warm glow painful to bear: Aetherite radiation of medium radiation level or higher is treated as bright light for the purpose of light blindness.

Light Blindness: A zahajin is blinded for 1 round when first exposed to bright light, such as sunlight, and it is dazzled for as long as the zahajin remains in an area of bright light.

Low-Light Vision: Zahajin can see in dim light as if it were normal light.

Stalker: Zahajin receive a +2 racial bonus to Stealth and Survival checks.

Languages: Zahajin begin play knowing only Zahaj- el. Zahajin with high Intelligence can choose from the following: Aklo, Aquan, Common, Erahthi, or Sylvan.

Zahajin Subtype Graft

This subtype is applied to zahajin and creatures related to zahajin.

Darkwild Zahajin

Typical player character zahajin have a somewhat divergent physiology from others of their kind, being less dependent on the aetherite radiation that constantly suffuses the Darkwild that allows them to venture farther from home without succumbing to its lack. However, zahajin that spend their entire lives in the Darkwild are saturated with aetherite energies in a way that grants them greater power at the price of being tethered to the radiant depths of their home and unable to wander the stars without constant exposure to the energies that bring them life. These Darkwild natives replace the above racial traits with the following:

Ability Adjustments: +2 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis

Hit Points: 6

Size and Type: Darkwild zahajin are Medium humanoids with the aquatic and zahajin subtypes.

Aether Blight: Darkwild zahajin take 1 point of Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma damage for every hour they are not exposed to low (or greater) aetherite radiation. This replaces the aetherite radiation dependency racial trait.

Aetherite Radiation Immunity: As above.

Aetherite Sense: As above.

Darkwild Wanderer: Darkwild zahajin gain a climb speed of 30 ft. in addition to their normal movement.

Extreme Climber: Darkwild zahajin can cling to smooth walls and even ceilings, as though constantly under the effects of spider climb, except that this is an extraordinary effect. This increases their racial bonus on Climb checks to +16. This replaces the expert climber racial trait.

Hatred: Darkwild zahajin gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against erahthi.

Stalker: Darkwild zahajin gain a +2 bonus on Perception and Stealth checks.

Wild Senses: Darkwild zahajin have darkvision to a range of 60 ft. in addition to low-light vision.

Traits: Amphibious, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, swim speed; if the NPC is of the zahajin race, it also gains aetherite radiation dependency, aetherite radiation immunity, aetherite sense, aquatic movement, expert climber, light blindness, stalker.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Alien Codex (Starfinder) © 2019, Legendary Games; Lead Designer: Jason Nelson. Authors: Anthony Adam, Kate Baker, John Bennet, Eytan Bernstein, Robert Brookes, Russ Brown, Duan Byrd, Paris Crenshaw, Jeff Dahl, Robyn Fields, Joel Flank, Matt Goodall, Robert J. Grady, Jim Groves, Steven T. Helt, Thurston Hillman, Tim Hitchcock, Nick Hite, Daniel Hunt, Mike Kimmel Marshall, Isabelle Lee, Jeff Lee, Lyz Liddell, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Tom Phillips, Jeff Provine, Alistair J. Rigg, Alex Riggs, Wendall Roy, Mike Shel, Neil Spicer, Todd Stewart, Russ Taylor, Rachel Ventura, Mike Welham, George Loki Williams, Scott Young.