Chaja

Overview
STR 25
INT 17
WIS 17
DEX 23
CON 23
CHR 17
Resists Light
Vulnerable Illusion
Bonus +2 hit points per level
Special Giant, dark vision, iron stomach
Classes Fighter, Gladiator, Bandit, Bard,
Barbarian, Ranger, Druid

Resilient and resourceful, the subterranean chaja are known most widely for their countless generations of enslavement by the shuddeni. Many remain under the thumb of the shuddeni, but populations of free chaja continue to grow more prominent in both urban centres and their ancient mountain enclaves.

Biology

Chaja are gigantic humanoid mammals with robust, hirsute bodies. The hair and skin of a chaja begins as a shade of white or pale grey at birth, gradually darkening to black with age. Some chaja have short, curved horns, though these are often concealed in their thick hair. At maturity they can reach over nine feet in height, and have strong, robust builds padded with layers of protective fat. They possess little sexual dimorphism, with both sexes possessing thick body hair and often facial hair as well. Chaja that mature underground tend to have colourless, milky eyes, while the chaja who grow up with regular exposure to sunlight can have eyes in a variety of muted shades.

The ability of the chaja to eat nearly anything is legendary. Not only are their stomachs exceptionally acidic, allowing them to eat even spoiled or rotting foods safely, their gut biome is uniquely extensive and dramatically expands the range of things they can derive sustenance from.

Culture

Perseverance is a principal virtue among the chaja, and stoicism in the face of adversity is viewed as the greatest strength. This creed depends to take on different tones however depending on a chaja’s origin.

Religion

Like the chaja themselves their deities have been shrouded in obscurity since the War of Night, but counted foremost among them is Kyana, the ancient and mysterious goddess of the stars. Upon emerging from the Brintor mountains, the chaja are said to have gazed up at the stars and cried out to them in awe of their beauty. Their cries stirred Kyana from her sorrow, and she took the chaja as her own, imparting on them prophecies concerning the fate of their people and the world and altering their species to be exceptionally resilient and capable of surviving in even the harshest conditions.

History

The chaja were the first to settle the Brintor mountains following the Sundering, emerging from the heart of the mountains and spreading across the ranges. In the time between the Sundering and the War of Fire, the chaja built many towering structures across the ranges which would later be repurposed by the aelin of Daphoa. The War of Fire marked the beginning of true chaja isolationism however as they retreated into underground sanctums to avoid the devastation of the fiery warlords ravaging the surface. Some enclaves attempted to retain their surface holdings, but most that did were obliterated.

A few of the retreating enclaves found themselves confronted with the shuddeni of the Yithoul clan, who at this time were engaged in a brutal war of extinction with the Ilthina clan. The burgeoning psionicists of the Yithoul discovered that the chaja were vulnerable to mental domination and executed a swift campaign of domination against the enclaves they were able to find, turning the might of the chaja against the them to secure the hegemony of Yithoul and seal the fate of the chaja, as Kyana had foreseen. The shuddeni have continued this practice into modern times, utilising their psionic prowess to ruin the minds of young chaja and instilling in them a fear of defiance and an instinct to obey authority. Although this process is imperfect, no slaveborn chaja escapes without damage, and most never even contemplate escape, contributing to the perception of enslaved chaja as complicit or even willing participants in their own enslavement.

Several millennia later, the chaja gained infamy on the surface as the front line of the shuddeni assault in the War of Night. In the centuries afterwards, many chaja fleeing enslavement or emerging from their mountain strongholds began integrating into surface cultures. Unfortunately, their role in the War of Night found many of them marginalised and discriminated against.

In modern times, the chaja strongholds of the Brintors maintain a state of extreme secrecy and isolationism, while the free chaja of the lowlands find themselves struggling against ancient prejudice and comparisons to the alatharya.