Sporting fine bushy manes and tails, pumathars are furry humanoids with feline heads and a number of other feline features. Pumathars have plush silky body fur like that of any wild or domestic cat, which can be either short or long. They are really modeled after the breeds of large predatory cats, rather than the more homogenous appearance of the housecat breeds, but the appearance is largely up to the player’s concept, including markings similar to Siamese, or dappled or spotted like Egyptian, and some bearing thicker, longer body fur like the Persian, Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest housecat breeds are not exactly uncommon. For the player who doesn’t wish to be troubled with a tail, there is always the Manx breed as a basis, which is tailless. Pumatharan coats and manes can range in color and pattern from that of any domestic cat to that found on any of the larger wild cats (player’s choice), though those that are smaller (below average STA and STR) most commonly have coats more like those of the domestic cats. Their pupils are round like those of the big cats, as opposed to the vertical slits of domestic cats.
Pumatharæ will be able to see up to (AWA) feet in lighting conditions equal to the tenuous light of starlight, only incurring an AV penalty to all skills and/or abilities that require the character’s sight at a rate of 1 point per foot.
In lighting conditions equal to the pale light shed by up to a 1/4-moon (waxing or waning, regardless), the pumathar character can see up to (AWA) yards, only incurring an AV penalty to all skills and/or abilities that require the character’s sight at a rate of 1 point per yard.
In lighting conditions equal to the pale light shed by up to a moon from 1/4 to full (waxing or waning, regardless), the pumathar character can see up to (AWA) rods, only incurring an AV penalty to all skills and/or abilities that require the character’s sight at a rate of 1 point per rod.
The distances a pumathar can see in areas lit by man-made light (fire or magick) extend beyond that allowed most of the other races by (AWA) feet.
With their feline origins, the bodies of the pumatharæ are put together just slightly different in locations of muscle tendon attachments, ligaments and the like, providing a greater mechanical advantage for jumping and leaping, like any cat. The distances a pumathar will be able to leap and jump will be greater than that determined for other races, as shown in chapter 8. Movement & Encumbrance. In addition, their senses are keener. All pumatharæ will receive a 25% bonus to any experience points gained towards cultivating any of the AWA-based perceptive skills.
The average life expectancy for a pumathar is 60 years. Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.
Point of View
In the pumatharan view, there are only two types in the world : The Quick, and The Hungry. No tears are shed for those foolish enough to fall into the traps laid for them; only the quick-witted and fit can excel and prosper. To that end, in the pumatharan view, possession is more than just nine-tenths of the law.
All races are viewed in largely the same manner on the whole. It is not without cause that the pumatharæ have a reputation for being cool, aloof and callous predators among the other races. They treat with those other races in much the same manner as they treat each other, though the wariness with which they are approached by the other races often forces them to deal more equably in order to maintain relations. Nonetheless, they remain distant and detached. Of course it is near impossible for them to avoid their usual condescending manner. No other race is respected in particular above the others, even the humans, who are generally acknowledged as approaching the status of ‘worthy adversary.’ That is a status that shows a measure of true respect among the pumatharæ, and the humans always fall short of it due to their very “humanity.” It never pays to show too much heart to the pumatharæ. Only those individuals who distinguish themselves one way or another in the eyes of the pumathars are treated any better or worse.
Thoughts & Beliefs
Pumathars have a special fondness for all other feline creatures, and many different types may often be found throughout their homes, from small domestic cats and ocelots or lynxes to leopards, panthers, lions, tigers, cheetahs, and the like. The larger cats are trained, more often than not, to guard and protect their masters and their homes. Pumathars revel in dominating and displaying their superiority over their cousins of the beast world.
Pumathars are very selfish and self-indulgent. They despise open sentimentality, but love to be petted, scratched and stroked. Open familiarity of that sort they allow only when they are in the mood. They love even more to see others beg and cajole to win them over. And yes, they can purr.
The pumathars’ unshakeable self-assuredness makes them some of the best Beastmasters around. They make a point of breaking every beast to it’s role of service with patience, proving over and again their superiority in intellect, heart, spirit, and very order of life.
All pumathars equipped with the Beastmaster trade will receive a 25% bonus to any experience points gained towards it during play.
They have no qualms about dispatching those they consider beneath them when they have out-lived their usefulness, or when they fail to perform as expected. Pumathars do not attach much value to the lives of individuals, specifically of those they consider to be of a lower class and/or station.
Between the sexes the roles of cats in the wilds can be seen, for the females are by far the more diligent and industrious. The males are far more devoted to their own indolent pleasures and commonly will only work as much as they must to achieve their desires. They work solely for themselves, where the females have more of an eye to the future. The females are the ones who look ahead to the need to provide for their young when they feel their biological clocks ticking. The males do what they see they must to get along. They are not above learning a trade. Indeed, to escape their domineering parents they look for apprenticeships at a young age, where the females may wait a little longer and suffer in silence to be sure of a decent situation. But once the males are on their own, they will play every angle and look for others to despoil and for the spoils of others to capitalize on to make their way before committing to working by the sweat of their own brow. So much easier to find another to do it in their stead, so they are always looking over their shoulders when working for their own reward.
“When the lioness kills, the cubs also profit.”
Feline to the core, the pumathar only works when he feels a need. The great majority may at least start with the most honest means at their disposal to get ahead but, when their patience wears thin, they will attempt to get what they want “by hook, or by crook.” Knaves and assassins are considered the same as any other professionals, with equal consideration and honor. No stigma is attached as it is among other races and cultures.
Apprenticeships are not generally arranged by the parents, who would rather keep their young dependent and under their thumbs and working for their benefit. Apprenticeships are sought quietly by the young themselves as a means of securing freedom from the family, and eventually independence. Most kits are canny enough by the time age seven arrives to be careful in seeking apprenticeships, wise to the harsh ways of their people enough not to make rash choices. It is common knowledge that the masters with the kindest smiles who are most eager to take on more young apprentices are usually the harshest in truth, and generally engaged in the least rewarding occupations. However, some desperate few still make the mistake of enlisting in the service of the first master who agrees to take them on at the youngest age they can connive to leave the family. Climbing up in the trades is understandably difficult among the pumatharæ. After the unique pumatharan attitude, trade guilds don’t work the same way as those found among humankind. The pumatharan monopolies are most commonly awarded to or purchased by allies of those who hold the right to grant charters, and then they are ordered and managed as the charter holders please. They are not incorporated bodies working for mutual benefit, as are those of the humans, and none get ahead in them without the consent of the charter holder.
Deeply interwoven into almost every aspect of pumatharan society is a disturbing streak of independence whose intensity arises from their feline origins. This is so pronounced that, as a people, they will rarely truly unite except by unspoken agreement in the face of a common foe. They are most definitely not team players – unless a need for their participation is expressed. Pumathars are very much concerned with precedence and the pecking order, who is on top and in control. The status quo can change on a moment’s notice with the vicissitudes of life. Few are truly ever trusted and, if one is smart, no special pains are taken to hinder anyone else, or help – unless they ask. All enemies may some day become allies of necessity, and all allies may some day become enemies by deed. It is not unusual for the same person to switch roles back and forth throughout the length of one’s acquaintanceship.
Politics in pumatharan society are ruthless and subtle. Precedence and alpha-dominance are strictly observed and very important. To look a social equal in the eye is bold, but acceptable, to stare is an open challenge. To look a superior in the eye can result in a beating, or worse. For one’s superior not to respond to such a challenge marks the challenger as his equal in everyone else’s eyes. Such challenges may be answered immediately and brutally, or simply verbally acknowledged – which allows time for another sort of reprisal entirely, usually far more devastating to one’s reputation or means. The challenger must be prepared for any response. While the use of hired muscle to beat opponents down is accepted and respected as prudent, dueling for personal gain and social rank is also widely accepted, though the participants risk being “owned” so to speak by the victor afterwards should they choose to spare the other’s life. Arranging to ruin a rival’s social reputation or finances is sometimes preferred as the more prudent, and enjoyably painful and prolonged punishment. It is far more difficult to recover from character assassination or financial ruination than a beating, and provides the opportunity to enjoy doing over again if a rival should recover, where using hired muscle to simply kill is so very final.
Those who wield magick have a definite advantage and are openly and widely respected and feared, given a wide berth by those of ALL social ranks and means. They can come of any social background themselves, but they become the social wild-cards, going where they have the power to thrust themselves when they wish. To a great extent they stand outside the law, though among their own they are just as stringently governed by the social order. Those with the greater power and knowledge police those below them even more cruelly than the upper nobility in society at large. Their means are much more insidious. And of course, whenever any of their number gets too powerful there is always a temporary coalition waiting to face them down in their worst excesses. Masters are very careful what they teach their apprentices. Many will leave their own culture to seek knowledge circulating among other peoples to bring back home again and shake their masters up.
“That which is yours, is yours. Let none trespass against it, even unto the seventh generation.”
While the pumatharæ enjoy allowing others to bask in their personal magnificence, especially when among their own kind, they are not all that gregarious like dunladdin, dwarfish, or human folk, except when the mood strikes them, and that mood can pass just as suddenly as it occurs. They keep such contact as casual as possible. Pumatharan relationships are viewed in terms of position – either one of weakness or one of strength. There is always one dominant and one submissive. They allow for little or no latitude or middle ground, and it is simply pumathar nature to always try to achieve the upper hand in as many relationships as they can. It is a constant struggle among their own kind.
In the pumatharan eye, to offer help to another is to imply weakness or incompetence, a calculated insult. To accept offered help is to be shamed and to instantly fall a rung below the one doing the offering. To ask for aid is worse yet, it is akin to requesting to be accepted as a vassal under the other’s lordship, like a pet. Belief in one’s self and abilities becomes severely diminished. Socially, the pumathar becomes completely hamstrung if such a thing should become known – a very effective tool for blackmail and manipulation. For one pumathar to force another into such a situation, where he must bend the knee and ask for help is considered the ultimate triumph, a deliciously cruel coup. Some prefer to go to their deaths than be so owned by another. On the other hand, for two or more pumathars to simply identify a common foe none is likely to be able to handle alone and throw in with another against him allows everyone to act as equals. Sometimes it is even possible to aid one’s social superior in this way, allowing him to gain a measure of respect and prestige.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
It is far easier for a pumathar to make true friends with those of other races, with whom trust and dominance are not so much an issue, when they make friends at all. Among their own kind however, such friends are commonly referred to as “pets,” or worse, even describe the pumathar himself as their pet, usually in an attempt to drive a little wedge between the pumathar and those who would support him where otherwise he would have to stand completely alone. Anything to diminish such a personal advantage.
True friendship is elusive in the extreme for the pumatharæ, especially among their own kind, and even more rarely do they truly ever fall in love. As closely as one is taken into one’s heart as friend or lover is as deeply as one can be hurt by them in turn, whether emotionally, socially, or financially. The most common form of marriage is that found among the noble class of humans, for profit and dynastic considerations. Marriages are only rarely ever made for love, and those matches primarily made among the lower classes, especially among the younger siblings that have little hope of inheriting except on the point of a knife or judicious use of poison. Generally speaking, those who have the least to guard have the least to lose. Marriage matches in general tend to be even more critical than in human society. The competition is far more fierce for those looking to “marry down” in class or station when there are resources and coin to gain, especially among younger siblings looking to gain some small fortune to help establish themselves. Humans place more stock on the value of bloodlines that the pumatharæ.
Like some of the other races, there is no difference drawn between male and female roles in society among the pumatharæ. In interaction between the sexes the roles of cats in the wilds can be seen. Indeed, the females tend to be even a bit more aggressive than the males. They often have a clearer purpose or goal before them. They raise the kits, or kitlings as they are called, and provide for them, while the men retire to their own society. Kitling is also used as a condescending insult, though not so damning as “pet,” as the kitling is simply too young to provide for himself through no fault of his own.
The kits are taught their dependence on Mother at a very young age. Once they have learned to ask, they are largely ignored by the mother except when they come to seek their needs to be filled, to beg a boon, or when the parents feel like playing, petting, or being petted. This way the parents get constant ego strokes that few even among the highest nobility can get any other way. This tends to make them insufferably smug and pleased with themselves.
The other side of this practice is the fact that it fosters a will in the kits’ hearts to achieve independence at a very early age. It sows a slowly simmering resentment and drive to escape the dominance of their home as soon as they are able. There is little solidarity between the parents in pumatharan households, except when the kits unite to get out from under the thumb of their parents, or among the lower classes who generally lack the means or opportunities to establish themselves independently otherwise. Those who manage to make their way alone do so as early as possible, sometimes as young as age seven.
As if their start in life weren’t tough enough, the lot of the family heirs is often even more costly and difficult, especially among the noble families. The family heir has a grueling wait for his birthright in his parents’ employ. He stays under the thumb of his family, subject to the whims and fits of humor of not only his mother but his father. In pumatharan society, estates commonly do not pass to the next generation until both parents have died. Of course, among the nobility trades are practically irrelevant in contrast to the commoners, the heir has his eye on the title and the power. With their indolent feline natures, there is always a great deal of quiet in-fighting between siblings and even cousins for favor and patronage of the title-holding parents. Appointments to offices or estates that can yield ripe opportunities for skimming a fine living are very appealing to those in a position to seek them among those of noble blood, especially to the males.