Termen by Paul M. Bardunias The Homebrewery (PDF)

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he termen looked too, well, elfy to make good
weapon smiths, but Gunner vouched for them.
He was our Master Smith, so we went where
he sent us. When good, squared, dwarven work
gave way to rounded, flowing, tubes that looked
as if eroded by an underground river, I knew
we had reached the terman warren. The
chittering crowd that greeted us was a motley mix of sizes.
The little ones were the most common. They were no bigger
than gnomes, and if anything more spindly, with those four
skinny arms waving about. They took the tools and ingots we
brought and loaded them on those giant termites they ride.
We left our gear and passed through a cordon of their
warriors, tall as a good sized dwarf, but slim behind their big
shields and lances that looked too awkward for a tunnel like
this. They smelled like wine gone to vinegar. We were
received by one of their princes. You could mistake him for an
elf in a dark tunnel. He carried himself like he was used to
being obeyed, and with all four of his hands on the hilts of
dwarf-made weapons, I was not about to comment on his
elfyness. He was flanked by some sort of holy man and
another with a flute and drum. He greeted us formally, then
bade us move quickly, for we were just beneath an elven
outpost and there had been clashes recently. As if in
explanation, he cocked his head whimsically, and showed us
a shard of dark wood with elven script inscribed before
popping it in his mouth. I could tell we were walking up a
slight incline for about a mile when the whole column
suddenly halted. A phalanx of those fellows with the big
shields moved to block the tunnel ahead where a band of
elves had broken in. We watched as the elvish bowmen
became a blur behind the tide of arrows that washed down
the tunnel. The big shields of the termen sprouted elven
arrow shafts like the quills of a hedgehog. When the barrage
of arrows proved ineffective, those prissy little elf swordsmen
attacked. The long lances of the termen suddenly made
sense, for not a single elf could come to grips with a terman
in line. When the elf swordsmen pulled back, I knew what
was coming. Sure enough, a brace of elven mages sprouted
fire between upraised hands in a blinding flare of light. A
sudden blast of sound echoed through the tunnels from the
flute player behind us, a shrill note that made me instinctively
cover my ears. Darkness descended once more as the fires
died when the mages recoiled from the noise and lost
concentration on their spells. Just then, that holy man
chanted in his chirping voice and a wall of earth grew from
the tunnel floor. Not in front of the elves as you might expect,
but behind them. Trapped elves! It does a dwarven heart
good. I looked at my mates and our hammers came out. One
of those little termen ahead restrained us and said we must
halt and watch. Just as I had decided on showing this little
runt what happens to anything coming between a dwarf and
an elf in need of thumping, an acrid smell almost floored me.
One after another, those big warriors spouted off. Gouts of
acid shot from their heads like so many little black dragons,
and the elves clawed at the wall of earth as the flesh sizzled
off of their bones. I was suddenly very happy to be arming
these people. This was the use that dwarven steel was forged
for. I almost felt bad for the thrice-damned elves…almost…
-Thorbald Thunderfoot, My Time Among The Termen.

Credit: Modified from images by Wayne Reynolds

Termen ate their way to sentience

They sprung from humble termites that consumed the magewrought wooden palaces, staves, and scrolls of the elves.
Their form evolved over time with exposure to Fey magic, in
form they became a blend of insect and elf. Although the Fey
magic of the elves spurred their evolution, to elves they are
little more than vermin. It was the dwarves that first brought
knowledge of other civilizations to the termen and taught
them the art of metal smithing. In many lands the tunnels of
dwarves and termen intersect, leading to agreements on
mutual defense. Termen have four arms and two legs, large
opaline eyes, and prominent antennae. They have faces that
are generally hard to read by other races, because they
convey a wide variety of emotions with simple tilts, nods or
bobs of the head and the inclination of antennae. Their flesh
ranges from cream to light green in color, with a reddish hue
to areas where the cuticle is thicker like the head, chest, and
forearms. In the warm humidity of their home tunnels they
were minimal clothing, but may be found heavily swathed in
flowing robes when moving through the outer world.

PART 1 | Termen Paul M. Bardunias


A peculiar brand of honor

Termen are insular and secretive, and are fanatically devoted
to their colony mates. This loyalty may at times be transferred
to groups they join outside the colony, but conflict may arise
when they expect such loyalty to be returned. There are many
reasons termen adventure away from their birth hives, but
most explanations are bound up with honor and duty. An
adventuring terman might be building fame and followers to
challenge the royals of a hive and usurp power. Alternately, a
wandering terman may be one of the "Lost" who were caught
outside of the nest during a breach of its walls and held off
the assailants as their nest-mates sealed up behind them. By
custom these termen are dead to their colony to keep them
from accidentally leading invaders to secret entrances back
into the hive. They must seek meaning in a life beyond the


Alignment. Termen tend to be neutral, the concepts of good
and evil are something they often find difficult to reconcile
with their first moral imperative: Do what benefits the colony.
They are usually lawful because they have been reared in the
strict discipline of the colony. Individuals may vary, especially
when away from the structure of the colony. Religion. Each
large colony has a hive spirit that forms its primary deity. A
terman worships the spirit of his home community as a
goddess, with the queen its high priestess. Ancient hives will
have many lesser hive spirits that interact with colony
members. The one deity all termen worship is Termes the
Swarm King, who represents the whole species and is shared
by all colonies.
Everywhere and Nowhere
Terman hives exist around many human and
humanoid cities, but go largely unnoticed. They
rarely interact directly with other races, but in cases
where they do, they have become crucial allies for
trade and defense. Termen are self-conciously
aware of the role of elves and Fey magic in their
physical evolution, and of the debt they owe to
dwarves for their material culture. Some insectoid
Fey, like sprites have an affinity for termen.
"Although we have battled them from the birth
of our race, we cannot escape the fact that elves
are, in a way, our fathers."
"The dwarf was our friend when to all others we
were vermin."
"There is no better place to live than beneath a
human city. They are oblivious to our presence, and
they throw away the most delicious wood!"


PART 2 | Termen Paul M. Bardunias


Born of magic, the strict castes that define terman society are
all defined by the arcane. The castes of termen are as
different in appearance and ability as the subraces of other
cultures even though they inhabit the same hive.
Archon. The royal caste of termen, they increase their
charisma by 1. In most hives they are Paladins of the terman
gods, Stone Sorcerers, or Warlocks bound to powerful hive
spirits. Slightly larger than the other castes, this caste is the
most likely go adventuring as they build power to challenge
for hive dominance.
Terrarch. These termen are the spiritual leaders of the
hive, channeling the power of the termen pantheon to sculpt
the very earth of the mound. They increase wisdom by 1. They
are adapted to be Earth Domain Clerics.
Tocsin. They control communication throughout the hive,
and increase charisma by 1. Bard is their usual class, College
of Valor most commonly.
Termidon. The fighting force of terman colonies is
primarily made up of this caste. Not only are they stout
fighters, but the magic that created the termen shaped the
glands of these warriors to produce a variety of spell effects.
They gain an increase of 1 to strength and are a variant of
Eldritch Knight specific to termen.
Swarm Lord. The Druids of the terman world focus on
summoning or taking the form of vermin swarms and various
giant arthropods. They gain an increase of 1 to Wisdom and
are most often members of the Circle of the Swarm.
Forager. They are most often Rangers of various types and
gain an increase of 1 to Dexterity.
Slaver. Within terman colonies, this class specializes is the
taking of slaves to work for the hive. They usually choose the
Rouge/Assasin class, and gain an increase of 1 to Dexterity.
Elf-touched. Some termen bloodlines have more than the
common share of Fey influence. Both honored and
mistrusted, they gain the innate magic ability of the Sorcerer,
and an additional 1 point of Charisma. Their angular features
betray their tie to the elves and mark them for suspicion
within the hive.
Depths Dweller. Outcast clans from terman hives often
move into the deepest tunnels on the outskirts of colonies.
They live in feral isolation, increasing strength by 1 point.
They are Barbarians.
Dwarf-Friend These termen evolved to better work with
dwarven smiths at their forges. They are far broader than
normal and sprout a beard-like growth from their chins. They
gain 1 point of Strength and are normally Fighters, though
rare individuals become Artificers or Forge Domain Clerics.
Minion. The workers of terman hives are by far the most
numerous. They are stunted compared to the other classes,
considered size Small. The need to sneak around those of
higher caste makes them natural Rouge/Scouts, and they
gain 1 point of Dexterity.

Terman Names

Both male and female termen have names composed of three
parts: a personal name, the name of their birth colony and a
caste name. Names often include peculiar click sounds.
Personal name: Zza, Kreel, D!jm, Maa
Colony names: Khopt,!zil, Ka’chri, Zrikriri, Xsifu
Caste name: Kra’en, Barz, G!huum, Mbun, Tiz
Example: Zza !zil G!huum

Terman Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your constitution score increases by
1 and your charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Most termen grow slowly. They are not considered
adults until age 30, and may live over 300 years. Some kings
and queens have been known to live to be 500 or more. The
exception to this is termen minions, who are mature by age
15 and rarely live more than 100 years.
Size. Termen Minions are small, between 3 and 4 feet tall
and less than 40 pounds. All other castes are Medium,
between four and a half and five feet tall and slim of build.
Archons may be as tall as five and a half feet tall.
Speed. Your walking speed is 25 feet
Chitin. Termen have +1 to armor class due to their
hardened cuticle
Multiple limbs. Termen have four weak arms. Each arm is
strong enough to wield a light weapon on its own, but they
have to use two arms for shields and other weapons. They
need all four arms to wield a weapon with the Heavy or Twohanded property. When they wield a weapon with the
Versatile property in two hands they can use the damage
value in parentheses. When Termen engage in Two-weapon
fighting, they can use two light weapons wielded in one hand
each, all other weapons require two hands each to wield two
Gut microbes. The delicate balance of gut microbes
renders them at disadvantage to saves vs consumed poisons.
Trophallaxis. You may cast the spell Goodberry as a first
level spell 1/long rest. This represents the advantageous
microbes you can cough up and spread on your own wounds
as a healing poultice or share with others.
Temptation of wood. Your culture dictates that you may
not own items made of wood unless covered in metal or
leather. It is just too hard to keep from nibbling on them. If
you must use a wooden item, you must save vs constitution
once a day. The magic bonus to items is counted as a negative
modifier to these saves.
Antennae. Blindsight 30ft.
Languages. Common, Dwarven

Terman Feats

Magic Muncher
Prerequisite: Terman
You inherited the ability to consume and destroy wooden
magical items and borrow their power from your ancestors.
You gain the following benefits:
• Increase your Intelligence score by 1, up to a maximum of
• If you consume a wooden magic item, you add its magic
bonus to your Saving Throws against Magic and the
Damage/Effect type of the item.
Ancestral Wings
Prerequisite: Terman
You sprout 2 pairs of insectiod wings. With your wings, you
have a flying speed of 20 feet if you aren’t wearing heavy
armor and aren’t exceeding your carrying capacity.
Spittle attack
Prerequisite: Terman
Your gut symbionts produce a noxious substance that can
be used against enemies. You gain the followingbenefits:
• Increase your Constitution score by 1, up to a maximum
of 20.
• Once per short rest, your spittle can reproduce the effect
of either the Acid Splash or Poison Spray at first level.

PART 3 | Termen Paul M. Bardunias


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