It's no secret that we here at Necromancers of the Northwest are big fans of mephits, and in fact we've even had mephit-themed weeks in the past. With today’s release of The Traveler's Guide to the Elemental Plane of Fire, our long-awaited book detailing the Elemental Plane of Fire, we were saddened that mephits didn't quite make their way into the book as a player character race, and so we've decided to give them an entire week on the website, where we'll be giving them the full treatment, including a brand new base class.
Commonly found serving more powerful outsiders, mephits are the underdogs of the inner planes, and can most often be found performing various tasks on behalf of strange and uncaring masters. Known for their close association with certain elements, in fact, not all mephits are elementally aligned, and only those that are infused with elemental power bear the trademarks that their race as a whole is best known for.
Physical Description: Mephits are largely humanoid in shape, although they each have a pair of leathery, bat-like wings. Often mistaken for creatures like imps and quasits by those not familiar with the inhabitants of the outer planes, most mephits are best distinguished from similar small winged outsiders by the fact that their bodies typically reflect and resemble a particular element: magma mephits glow with an inner heat that seems to shift and move like liquid, while an ice mephit's body is constantly coated in a layer of frost, and ooze mephits exude a pungent slime.
Surprisingly, however, mephits are not naturally infused with these elemental essences, and when they are born naturally, rather than created by powerful spellcasters, they lack these traits, and possess grey, leathery skin. When a mephit is created magically, its creator can infuse it with a single elemental essence, however, and since this is the way that most mephits are created, it is very rare to see a mephit who lacks an elemental essence. Even those mephits that are created naturally, without being infused with an element, can later infuse themselves with a special ritual, although this decision is not one that a mephit makes lightly, as it is difficult, if not impossible to reverse the effect. Some scholars believe that a mephit who spends long enough in areas of intense elemental energy can eventually adapt that energy even if it is already infused with a different element, but verifiable instances of this are hard to come by.
Most mephits have prominent hooked noses and long, narrow chins. Their bodies are completely devoid of hair, although in some cases they may have elemental outgrowths that resemble hair, such as a fire mephit with a mane of fire wreathing its head, or an ice mephit with icicles on its scalp that resemble a mohawk.
Society: The majority of mephits do not live in a mephit society, but rather live as indentured servants in the society of another race. Many of these mephits were created by the magic of more powerful denizens of the planes specifically to serve in this fashion, through the use of potent spells and rituals that are a jealously-guarded secret amongst those that know them. These mephits serve as general minions to their creator-masters, who are most commonly genies of various sorts, acting as messengers, spies, and laborers, amongst other tasks. Frequently, these mephits are even loaned out to serve other masters, and this is most commonly how they come to serve as familiars to mortal spellcasters (although a handful of powerful mages are said to have mastered the spells that create new mephits).
Like most intelligent creatures, mephits eventually chafe under the yolk of servitude, and while many are willing to content themselves with shirking their duties in favor of lazing about, or amusing themselves by making dry and sarcastic comments to their masters, many eventually rebel or flee, setting out on their own. Of these, some band together, forming their own enclaves, cities, or, in rare cases, even nations out in the vast reaches of the elemental planes, jealously defending their freedom from those who would control them. Ironically, many of these communities are ruled with an iron fist by whichever mephit happens to beat, cheat, or cajole her way into power.
Of course, not all mephits are created into servitude in this way. Some mephits are born through the union of two parents, in a manner similar to humanoid creatures, but others seem to coalesce from the churning mists of the Ethereal Plane, fully-formed. These mephits are not naturally imbued with elemental power and largely keep their own company, separate from that of other mephits.
Most mephits do not have surnames, but many free mephits choose to take titles for themselves, which are often grandiose and exaggerate their importance.
Relations: It's not quite right to say that mephits get along well with other races, but at the same time, they don't exactly get along poorly with them, either. In general, mephits are deferential to members of larger races, preferring to avoid confrontation and resolve conflicts with such creatures by outwitting or outmaneuvering them, rather than by using brute force. Mephit legends feature heroes who cleverly subvert the orders of their masters, and mephits in general view those who do things the easy way as being particularly intelligent, though this leads members of other races to see them more as lazy, instead.
Many humanoid races view mephits as a "monstrous" race, and many mistake them for imps or similar fiendish creatures. It is only those with a background in arcane lore, or who otherwise take the time to get to know a mephit, that are likely to respond to them with anything besides naked blades. Similarly, mephits tend to have the same dismissive attitude towards creatures of the Material Plane that many other denizens of the elemental planes possess, although rather than pushing their weight around like efreet and other powerful outsiders are wont to do, in mephits this sense of superiority tends to manifest in the form of snarky comments and other minor manifestations of disrespect.
Alignment and Religion: A fractured race, largely absorbed into the cultures of the outsider races that have enslaved them, and with their own nations and enclaves disparate and unconnected, each developing their own culture and social mores, mephits come in a wide variety of alignments, depending on where they are from. Similarly, many mephits adopt the religions of their masters, or other races they live with, although a disproportionate number of them worship elemental deities and quasi-deities, particularly those that are linked with the same element that the mephit itself is infused with.
Adventurers: There are many reasons why a mephit might become an adventurer, chief among them being that it is fleeing servitude to some more powerful creature. Other mephits become adventurers to seek out new and fantastic sights, which the elemental planes are known to be full of. Some mephits seek out sources of magical power, attempting to glean the secrets by which other races are able to create members of their own.
Male Names: Bolamohr, Cartiodal, Froeboch, Hababiolon, Keosum, Leresohm, Marzuhn, Searnach, Sidmuhm, Xeuluhn.
Female Names: Aaqiemuhr, Craobohra, Feir, Ieneilohr, Marmihr, Naparoanahr, Pulubahla, Smoasohru, Zair, Zarusoixar.
Titles: the Cinder Countess, the Fearsome, the Granitebelly, the Mighty, the Prince of the Southern Gale, the Queen of Oozing Filth, the Stormlord, the Swift, the Unsummoned, the Wavecaller.
Standard Racial Traits
Ability Score Racial Traits: Mephits are swift and elusive, and possess boundless self-confidence, but are impatient and slow learners. They gain +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, −2 Intelligence, and −2 Wisdom.
Type: Mephits are outsiders. However, their Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skills are determined by their class, instead of their creature type.
Size: Mephits are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a −1 penalty to their CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
Base Speed: Mephits are fast for their size, and have a base speed of 30 feet. They also have a fly speed of 40 feet (average).
Languages: Mephits begin play speaking Common and one of the following: Aquan, Auran, Ignan, or Terran. Mephits with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Abyssal, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Ignan, Infernal, or Terran.
Offensive Racial Traits
Claws: Mephits have two primary claw natural attacks, which deal 1d3 points of damage on a successful hit.
Defensive Racial Traits
Damage Reduction: Mephits have DR 5/magic.
Magical Racial Traits
Skillful Summoner: Mephits are natural summoners, and treat their caster level as 2 higher for the purposes of all spells they cast with the summoning subschool.
Senses Racial Traits
Darkvision: Mephits see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
Other Racial Traits
Mortal Body: Unlike most outsiders, mephits need to eat and sleep. Mephits can also be resurrected as though they were not outsiders.
"But wait," I'm sure you're wondering to yourself. "Where are all the elemental abilities? You can't have mephits without elemental abilities!" Well, don't fret. Tomorrow's Best in Class, the mephit paragon, has this covered.