The ka'an are a race whose small empire covers most of Russia and the Ukraine, stretching as far south as the Bosporan Kingdom. They are a cultured race, delighting in games and history.
Their entire society is based on competition, especially of the social and political genre. Every ten years something that they just call "The Game" culminates, and another Game begins. The object is to gain the most political points, through a system of rules all ka'an consider sacred. A council made up of the past winners decides the outcome. Each person can enter in at most one in every four Games, so life is fairly normal for thirty or so years. Once someone has won, that person can never enter again. Winning The Game is considered to be the highest honor achievable in life. This is not to say that losers of any game are to be looked down upon. Every player is to be congratulated, if only for playing. They do not care about who got second or who came in last. Side bets concerning who will get more points are common. The winner of any competition is bought dinner and presents by the players, who all celebrate the victory together.
Poison has been used extensively to win The Game (or to keep other people from winning)—its use causes one to lose quite a few Game points, but it is sometimes well worth it. The ka'an as a race have developed something of a tolerance to it over the centuries, and receive a +1 for every 3.5 points of Constitution in their saving throws against it. The prevalence of poison also means that many rare and ingenious types are available in ka'an society.
The race overall is slightly shorter than humans, with the average height being 66". The men and women are about the same size. In game terms, the base height (see p24 of the PH) is 56", with a modifier of 3d6. They are small-boned and light, with disproportionately large feet (by human standards). The base weight is 90 lbs, with a modifier of 4d10. They live about of 200 years (base 200 +5d20), with middle age at 110 years, old age at 150 years, and venerable at 200. Their features are closest to human, with dusky-grey skin, light- to dark- grey hair, and eyes some shade of brown. They have somewhat large, flat noses. They are probably the hairiest race, with thick, 1" long hair covering the forearms, legs, chest and part of the back. Some time ago they took to shaving their faces, and it is now almost a social stigma to keep a beard or moustache. The women are also quite hairy.
Ka'an senses of hearing and smell are exceptional, and because of this receive a +1 bonus to all surprise rolls. Because of their keen senses, they are somewhat overwhelmed by crowded city streets, and most avoid them if at all possible.
Ka'an love languages, and enjoy collecting them. As beginning languages, ka'an can select from gnomish, dwarvish, elvish, goblin, ogre, and any common Empire tongue. They are fascinated by birds and their flight and have legends of giant eagles befriending them and serving as steeds for life. Birds are kept as pets and as alarm systems. Because of their intense study and interest in birds, they can also choose as a language the simple speech of birds; their lips and tongue are ideal for forming such sounds as are necessary.
Music fascinates the ka'an, not least because they have little talent for it. They have rough singing voices at best, and have never really developed any instruments, preferring to invite other races to come and play. They like everything from the elves' lyrical epics to driving African drumbeats, and will sit fascinated, listening for hours to a skilled performer. The one thing that they are know for is their whistling. One trio was good enough to be invited to whistle at a party thrown by the emperor Caligula!
As has been stated, political and social games fascinate the ka'an. The bigger the game, the better; the expansion of the Roman Empire has sparked an explosion of interest among the ka'an the like of which has not been seen for centuries. Past winners of The Game have come out of retirement to play this new game. The name of the game: influencing the Empire in favor of the ka'an. Some extra shaving and trimming, a bit of putty, some hair and skin dye, and a long robe to cover their large feet, and the ka'an can easily pass for somewhat ugly humans. Who knows how high up in the Roman bureaucracy the ka'an have risen?
The ka'an have developed their own writing system, and over half the women and maybe a tenth of the men can read and write at least their native tongue, and examples of most other tongues (including many phonetic trascriptions where no written language exists) can be found in the ka'an libraries. Because of their interest in writing, teams of women working together have had a decided advantage in The Game (harder to spy on a note than on a whispered conversation, and easier to communicate with many people), and almost two thirds of the winners of The Game have been women. Unfortunately, because of the Roman male-dominated socitey, the female ka'an have not been able to play as big a role in the new game as they deserve; they don't look at all attractive when in human disguise, and thus cannot gain a real influence over human men. They make excellent chambermaid/slave spies, however, especially because of their excellent hearing and eavesdropping capabilities. There is enough similarity between the races to give a ka'an only a -4 to their Disguise rolls when attempting to emulate a human. Likewise, the women are similar enough to the men that they only receive a -4 to the rolls when attempting to emulate the other sex. It is likely that a few women are good enough that they have infiltrated the Empire as men.
Ka'an usually get along pretty well with the other races; their favorites are probably gnomes, with humans coming in a close second. Gnomes like games as much as anyone and tend to be good at the mental ones. Their only drawback is that they get sidetracked with silly practical jokes, which are useless to the ka'an unless they happen to lower an opponent's Game status through embarrassment. The dwarves are boring, but good opponents. The elves are much too outgoingly wishy-washy (first fighting for the Romans, then against them, then for them, thenÉ), but their music and songs are incredible. The ka'an have had little contact with halflings, figuring them to play a small part in the Empire game. They find humans hardest to fathom, if only because there are so many different ones out there. The ka'an have a total population of maybe one million; the Empire matches that in Rome alone! And there is such a wide variety; the ka'an have not yet grasped all the different personalities.
Humans are somewhat puzzled by ka'an. Obviously, they have a bit more culture and are more interesting than halflings, are more serious than gnomes, not nearly as flighty as elves, and know a few good jokes unlike the dwarves, but they don't seem to make anything really useful. The dwarves and gnomes are excellent craftsmen, the halflings have their beer, and the elves their music, but what do the ka'an do? They are mediocre craftsmen, they can't play music, the only food they produce (corn, celery, and a few grains) can be acquired elsewhere more easily and it will be of better quality, they dislike venturing onto large bodies of water, they hunt a lot but aren't notably good at it, and their warfare strategies are excellent but they seem to be more interested in their internal politics. There has only been human contact with the ka'an for about 200 years, so racial relations have not yet been well established. They seem to have some kind of honor, although all of them seem to be interested in some sort of game or other, the point of which has not yet been determined. The funny thing is, a few citizens in Rome and a few noble Greeks seem noticeably well-intentioned toward the ka'an, so there must be something to be said for them. At the moment ka'an are tolerated, if not respected, as much as any nonhuman can be.
Ka'an worship gods of Games (N, Greater God), Politics (CN, Int God), Competition (LN, Int God), Birds (CG, Lesser God), Friendship (LG, Int God), Enmity (LE, Int God), Luck (NG, Int God), Thievery (N, Int God), Deception (CE, Int God), Family (NG, Lesser God), and Weather (?, Lesser God). They find most foreign gods of death to be amusing; ka'an have trouble with the concept of an afterlife. They believe that when a person dies, that person comes back to play the game of life again. The truly wretched tend to commit suicide in the hopes of gaining higher status. Luckily, the ka'an have a good social work program, so this doesn't happen too often. They burn their dead if at all possible. (Any player wishing to develop any or all of these religions see me, I'd love talk about it to them, or maybe do it with them. I will probably need a push from someone else, though.)
Ka'an receive a +1 bonus to their initially generated Wisdom scores because of their Game training; it takes a quick thinker to coordinate such an effort and to be prepared to counteract opponents' dealings. Because of their relatively light structure, ka'an receive a -1 to their initially generated Strength.
Ka'an Priests are not particularly notable, and participate in the Games only as mediators. Maximum level: 10
Ka'an do not make great Fighters. Their interest leans much more toward behind-the-scenes fun. Nevertheless, when ka'an do select the Fighter class, they want to be the best. Maximum level: 10
On the other hand, ka'an seem well suited to Rangerhood. Those "loners" in society gain many skills that could be useful in The Game, and a Ranger can pick up a retinue of birds to be used as scouts and to send messages. Their senses are excellent for outdoor survival. Maximum level: 12
Ka'an make fabulous Thieves, especially Spies and Investigators. They can be good Assassins and Swindlers, and are good Acrobats as well because of their light bone structure. They make poor Thugs, Bounty Hunters, and Buccaneers, preferring a bit of subtlety in their lives. Most ka'an thieves desire behind-the-scenes political power, through guild leadership, blackmail, or other influence. Gold does not interest them as much as power, although collecting gold has been known to lead to power (especially in the Empire). They are fascinated by magical items, which none of their race have produced. Maximum level: 15
Ka'an have a few small psionically-abled clans, which are quite useful in the Games. Maximum level: 10
The multi-classed combinations that are available to ka'an are: Fighter/Thieves, Ranger/Thieves, and Psionicist/Thieves.
Thief racial adjustments:
Because of their large, padded feet and soft moccasins ka'an receive +10% to their Move Silently ability. Their hearing is excellent, and they receive +15% to Hear Noise. Their light weight gives them a +5% to Climb Walls, and their language history gives them +5% to Read Languages. Their hands tend to be quite broad, and so they receive a -5% to Pick Pockets. All other abilities are normal.
Racial Ability Requirements: Strength 3/18; Dexterity 6/18; Constitution 3/18; Intelligence 5/18; Wisdom 7/18; Charisma 3/18.
Height, weight and age: The base height for males and females (see p24 of the PH) is 56", with a modifier of 3d6. The base weight is 90 lbs, with a modifier of 4d10. They live about 200 years (base 200 +5d20), with middle age at 110 years, old age at 150 years, and venerable at 200. Starting age is 25 + 2d10.