by T.A. Saunders ©2010 v1.0
SummaryCreature Type: Humanoid
Diet: Carnivore Activity: Nocturnal
Special Talents: Hide in shadows, silent movement.
Special Attacks: Infectious claws and bite.
Locality: Primarily Zoda and the sub-continent of Miroa, though some have traveled as far south as the Windsong Republic and the Sovereignty of Anthalas (the Burning Lands).
Longevity: Fifty to sixty years.
Class Types: 50% of Masoq will be thieves, 25% will be soldiers, 10% will be Paragon Thieves or Paragon assassins, 10% will be shaman and 5% will be Paragon Shaman.
The average Masoq is roughly five feet tall and has a gaunt and malnourished-looking frame. Many can suffer a slight hunchback condition but this deformity is in no way crippling; it is simply unsightly. Eyes are almost always black, though there are some that have milky white eyes and skin tone varies from coal black to slate gray. The Masoq that have traveled south favor this skin tone over their darker-skinned brethren. All Masoq have either black, brown, gray or white hair with no variation whatsoever from these colors. They wear their hair in topknots, braid it and often just pull it back, though nearly always, both genders tend to wear it long.
Little is known about the origin of the Masoq, other than they have been on Imarel as long as the Zissah have, with recorded sightings of the foul creatures going back to the time around the War of Twilight. However these scrolls and stone tablets depict the Masoq as a far more mighty race than what lingers today. It is written that they served the Lords of Chaos as faithful hunters of Asyndi during the war, but afterward, little is said of them. It is thought perhaps they were either cursed for their failure or having been decimated as a race by the war, that they simply regressed into a primitive, scavenger race.
The Masoq themselves do not keep a written history; all lore is kept by a tribal shaman, who relates their history to only to the tribe’s warriors. Mothers, children and others have no need to know such things, nor do the warriors of the tribe tell others the history. To do so is a great affront and can result in being expelled from the tribe or slain. It is likewise unknown why this tradition exists, but it is true for every Masoq tribe everywhere. As with the rumored descent from power as a people, it is thought that the reason their history is not shared is somehow tied into their descent from strength as a race.
Whatever the case, the Masoq of today are a rag-tag lot, that live in ruins or travel on the open land as nomadic tribes, scavenging from the places they choose to settle, when they choose to settle at all. Masoq, once they settle into a place, will defend it aggressively, where otherwise they prefer to ambush and use superior numbers to fight. They will often trade the things they find with Human peddlers, though they normally will not interact with any other race and they avoid Voraath like the plague, having had whole tribes exterminated for wandering onto Voraathi hunting grounds. Like their history, their language and their tribe affiliations are almost unknown to outsiders, though the language itself is highly developed, lending to the possibility that perhaps they were indeed a greater people at one time.
The recent migration into Tal`Rah suggests that the Voraath have either been driving them off, or there has been a resurgence in their population. It is most likely that it is a combination of these two possibilities, where the Voraath have simply been pushing the growing population south, into human and elvish territories. Many of these Masoq are light-skinned, which suggests a possible racial conflict amongst their own kind. It is not uncommon for Masoq tribes to war amongst one another for control over ruins, good hunting grounds or a trade route humans might use, so it is feasible that the Masoq would ware over a matter minor racial differences.
While they do trade with humans, it is viewed as a necessary evil. This tolerance is best exhibited in the city of Kasiq, where Masoq and Humans live amongst one another, albeit in relative squalor. Masoq roaming as nomadic tribes are just as likely to raid a caravan as they are to trade with it; usually the determination of which will happen is made by how heavily armed the caravans are. Masoq have no loyalty to anybody and are happy to ambush a caravan they traded with the week before, if they have enough bodies to throw at it. Masoq will attack other nomadic tribes, caravans or anything they think their numbers can overwhelm, or take while the enemy is sleeping. The idea of a mosaqi frontal assault is almost unheard of with a vast prefererence to kill under the cover of night or with vastly superior numbers whenever the opportunity allows them.
Masoq do not have family units, save for mother and child. The father does not keep with the mother; male and female Masoq mate and then go their separate ways. Female Masoq are trained as shaman, or tribe caretakers which involves cooking hunted food and watching after the children. The males are either trained as warriors, hunters, scouts or magi. If a Masoq does not seem to excel in any of the tasks his or her gender would qualify them for, they are exiled when they become an adult, to seek their fortunes on their own. It is thought the bulk of ‘adventuring’ Masoq come from the lot that are discarded from tribes, since most are too lazy to consider adventuring without having to do so out of necessity.
Magic amongst the Masoq is a strange and very rare thing, but there are those who practice it. Their style of casting is not unlike the Xosian Method Humans use, which suggest somewhere down the line, a human may have taught a Masoq how to work magic, or perhaps the ability was always there, but lost as their race crumbled into the ruin that it is today. It is possible to run into tribes that have no magic-users at all and it is possible to run into tribes that have several; those that do are often run by those magi, rather than a shaman, since the magi can simply incinerate those who would oppose them. Likewise, those tribes with magi tend to be more aggressive than those that do not.
Masoq warriors are adept fighters, though as previously stated, most prefer more clever forms of engagement, rather than a frontal assault. They are masters of the ambush and are knowledgeable in a variety of weapons, including the flintlock and the blunderbuss and have in the past used such weapons to tear apart caravans or other small targets they deem maybe carrying valuables. Typically, Masoq warriors will be found with swords, spears and shields and whatever armor they can scrounge up. Sometimes these articles can be in rather poor condition, or they can be possibly magical in enchantment. When no weapon is available to them, they will fight with their natural claws and teeth, which are more often than not tainted with filth that can cause serious infection or spread any number of unsightly diseases.