The Scavenger Gods
These gun-toting, flightless avians control most of the organized criminal activity in the world.
Physical Description: Adult penguins stand around 4 feet tall and weigh around 70 pounds, with males weighing more than females. The weight can vary significantly by season, as both male and female penguins lose substantial mass while raising hatchlings and incubating their egg. A male emperor penguin must withstand the upper atmospheric cold for more than two months to protect his egg from extreme cold. During this entire time he doesn’t eat anything. Most male penguins will lose about 25 lbs while they wait for their chicks to hatch.
Penguins have streamlined bodies to minimize drag while swimming, and wings that are more like stiff, flat flippers. The tongue is equipped with rear-facing barbs to prevent prey from escaping when caught. The adult has deep black dorsal feathers, covering the head, chin, throat, back, dorsal part of the flippers, and tail. The black plumage is sharply delineated from the light-coloured plumage elsewhere. The underparts of the wings and belly are white, becoming pale yellow in the upper breast, while the ear patches are bright yellow. The upper mandible of the long bill is black, and the lower mandible can be pink, orange or lilac. In juveniles, the auricular patches, chin and throat are white, while its bill is black. Penguin chicks are typically covered with silver-grey down and have black heads and white masks. Chicks weigh around 11 oz after hatching, and fledge when they reach about 50% of adult weight.
Most penguins are indistinguishable from each other, even to their own kind and must rely on vocal calls alone for identification. They use a complex set of calls that are critical to individual recognition between parents, offspring, and mates. Vocalizing penguins can use two to three frequency bands simultaneously (making the Penguin language extremely difficult for non-penguins to speak).
The Penguin’s dark plumage fades to brown during the summer, before the yearly moult. Moulting is rapid in this species compared with other avians, taking only around 34 days. Penguin feathers emerge from the skin after they have grown to a third of their total length, and before old feathers are lost, to help reduce heat loss. New feathers then push out the old ones before finishing their growth.
Penguins are expert survivors, but have a tendency towards violence that shortens their lifespans. The average penguin only lives about 20 years, usually dying violently. In safety and seclusion, a penguin can live 50 years or more. Due to Cat-folk predation on their eggs and hatching grounds, and their harsh upbringing, only about 1 in 5 chicks survive their first year of life.
Penguins breed in the winter and their breeding grounds, in the cities of Innsmouth and Portsmouth in the upper atmosphere, are among the coldest environment encountered by any species; air temperatures may reach −40° F, and wind speeds may reach 90 mph. The species has adapted in several ways to counteract heat loss. Feathers provide excellent insulation, and it has a layer of sub-dermal fat which may be up to 2 in thick before breeding. This resultant blubber layer impedes the mobility of penguins on land compared to other races. Its stiff feathers are short, spear-shaped, and densely packed over the entire skin surface. With around 100 feathers covering one square inch, it has the highest feather density of any species. An extra layer of insulation is formed by separate shafts of downy filaments between feathers and skin. Muscles allow the feathers to be held erect on land, reducing heat loss by trapping a layer of air next to the skin. Conversely, the plumage is flattened in water, thus waterproofing the skin and the downy underlayer. Preening is vital in facilitating insulation and in keeping the plumage oily and water-repellent. The penguin is able to maintain its core body temperature without altering its metabolism, over a wide range of temperatures. At temperatures above 70 °F, a penguin may become agitated as its body temperature and metabolic rate rise to increase heat loss.
In addition to the cold, the penguin encounters another stressful condition on deep dives—markedly increased pressure of up to 40 times that of the surface, which in most other terrestrial organisms would cause barotrauma. The bones of the penguin are solid rather than air-filled, which eliminates the risk of mechanical barotrauma. While diving, the penguin’s oxygen use is markedly reduced, as its heart rate is reduced to as low as 15 beats per minute and non-essential organs are shut down, thus facilitating longer dives. Its blood cells are able to bind and transport oxygen at low blood concentrations; allowing them to function with very low oxygen levels that would otherwise result in loss of consciousness. Penguins have been known to dive down to the deepest cities of The Constellation, though they do eventually have to surface for air.
Their are at least three known sub-races or ethnicities among Penguins—the Emperors, the Macaronis, and the Rockhoppers. Aside from minor physical variations, they are indistinguishable and have a shared culture. Emperors are as described above. Macaronis have bright yellow or orange crests above their eyes, resembling bushy eyebrows. Rockhoppers are somewhat smaller than the others and have spiky, hairlike feathered crests on the tops of their heads (which are often elaborately styled, making them the easiest individuals to distinguish by sight alone).
Society & Relations: Penguins are a highly advanced race, famed for their steam-powered devices, flying ships, and projectile weapons. Penguins are natural marksmen, and all penguins train from a young age in the use of their steam-powered firearms. Penguin airships provide transport throughout the Catamarok Empire and the wider world, for a fee of course, and they consider the airborne cities of Innsmouth and Portsmouth, built on the backs of The Fleet, to be their homeland.
Penguins are organized, though ethically challenged, controlled by a number of mobs and crime syndicates. The most powerful of which is the Penguin Mafia, ruled by Don Rosencrantz. The Penguins willingly integrated into the Catamarok Empire. shortly after its founding, providing advanced weapons and transportation to the Imperial armies in exchange for the Emperor turning a blind eye to their nefarious activities. Today, most cities in the world, on land, underwater, and in the skies, are home to one or more mafia families, and very few crimes happen without the penguins being involved in (or at least aware of) the activity.
The Penguins’ closest allies are the Giant Eagles, who have all pledged their allegiance to Don Rosencrantz and his family, and serve as the eyes and informants for the Penguin Mafia.
Despite their agreements with Emperor Prospero, the penguins have a distinct dislike of Cat-folk in general, for their high-minded legality. In recent years this has threatened to mount into fullscale open warfare, as it has been discovered that the Cat-folk have been stealing and eating penguin eggs as a means of unnaturally extending their lifespans.
Alignment and Religion: Most penguins are morally challenged at best. They are ruled by criminals and even the most sedate penguin shopkeeper will gladly serve as an informant or provide a hideout for the mob. A small group of Penguins, however, known as Purists, have been working in recent years to reform their society and break the dependence on the Dons and their thugs.
- Male: Aksel, Arne, Bendt, Cai, Claus, Ebbe, Einar, Finn, Frode, Gunne, Hanne, Henrik, Ivar, Jannik, Jesper, Kare, Kennet, Konrad, Linus, Malte, Markus, Mikkel, Oskar, Peder, Pontus, Rikard, Sebastien, Tarben, Tore, Urban, Valter
- Female: Agathe, Aina, Anja, Astrid, Bente, Birthe, Brita, Cille, Dorete, Ebba, Elin, Ellinor, Eva, Grete, Hanne, Helle, Ina, Inger, Jannike, Judit, Katja, Klara, Laerke, Lene, Maja, Maren, Merete, Pernille, Rakel, Runa, Signe, Sofie, Stine, Tekla, Thea, Vanja
- Family Names: Aspenas, Carpelan, Ornsparre, Oxenstierna, Ribbing, Rosencrantz, Rosenstrale
Racial Traits [15 Points]
- Type: Monstrous Humanoid [Cold, Penguin] (3 RP): Monstrous humanoids are similar to humanoids, but have monstrous or animalistic features. They often have magical abilities as well. A monstrous humanoid race has the following features.
- Monstrous humanoids have the darkvision 60 feet racial trait.
- Monstrous humanoids breathe, eat, and sleep.
- Cold Subtype (2 RP): Penguins are immune to Cold, but take half again as much damage (+50%) from Fire, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed or if the save is a success or failure.
- Abilities (0 RP): +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Dexterity: Penguins are extremely hardy and highly analytical, but rather slow and awkward on land.
- Small Size (0 RP): Penguins gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty on combat maneuver checks and to their CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks. Small races have a space of 5 feet by 5 feet and a reach of 5 feet.
- Slow Speed (-1 RP): Penguins have a base speed of 20 feet on land.
- Powerful Swimmer (3 RP): Penguins have a swim speed of 40 feet and gain the +8 racial bonus on Swim checks that a swim speed normally grants.
- Hold Breath (1 RP): Penguins can hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to six times their Constitution score before risking drowning or suffocating.
- Gunslinger (2 RP): Penguins gain Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Firearms) as a bonus feat. Penguins can use Tommy Guns (these weapons are not available outside of the Penguin Mafia).
- Kneecapper (1 RP): Penguins gain a +4 racial bonus on combat maneuver checks to trip an opponent.
- Swarming (1 RP): Penguins are used to living and fighting communally with other members of their race. Up to two members of this race can share the same square at the same time. If two members of this race that are occupying the same square attack the same foe, they are considered to be flanking that foe as if they were in two opposite squares.
- Silver Tongued (3 RP): Penguins gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Bluff checks. In addition, when they use Diplomacy to shift a creature’s attitude, they can do so up to three steps up rather than just two.
- Languages (0 RP): Penguins begin speaking Common and Penguin. Members of this race with high Intelligence scores can choose additional languages from Aquan, Aamuh, Giant Eagle, Myconid, Cat-folk, Monarus, and Spriggan.
Random Starting Ages:
|5||+1d4 years||+1d6 years||+1d8 years|
Random Height and Weight:
|Gender||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Male||3 ft. 6 in.||+1d8 in.||70 lbs.||+1d8 x1d4 lbs|
|3 ft. 7 in. — 4 ft. 2 in.||71 – 102 lbs|
|Male||3 ft. 6 in.||+1d8 in.||50 lbs.||+1d8 x1d4 lbs|
|3 ft. 7 in. — 4 ft. 2 in.||51 – 82 lbs|
|Race||Middle Age||Old||Venerable||Maximum Age|
|Cumulative Effects||–1 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha||–2 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha||–3 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha||GM secretly determines Maximum|
|Penguin||25 years||37 years||50 years||50 + 1d10 years|
Sources of Inspiration:
Dohwar (2nd-edition Spelljammer), see also 3e Stats
Squawk (Cerulean Seas – Indigo Ice accessory)
Learn to Fly (flash game about penguins with gliders and bombs)
The Penguin (comic book character)
Penguin Mafia (Kingdom of Loathing), see also History, and Hitman