Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Vaults of sha-Arthan: The Chenot

Work continues to proceed on The Vaults of sha-Arthan, though a little more slowly than I'd hoped. Even so, nearly all the basic character classes are complete, including three nonhuman classes. I present one of them – the Chenot, a race of sentient plants – in this entry as a taste of what I've been sharing over at Advanced Grognardia. Between now and when I start up the campaign, I may make a few tweaks to the class, but, for the moment, I am content with it. Constructive comments and suggestions are welcome, as are questions about the Chenot and the sha-Arthan setting (though I reserve the right to keep some matters secret for the time being).

Edit: This is an updated version of the class, after reflecting on the comments below, particularly those of James Mishler. Thanks to everyone for their feedback; it is much appreciated.


A Chenot by Zhu Bajiee

Prime requisite:
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 8
Armor: Special (see below)
Weapons: Any appropriate to size

Chenot are a species of small, plantlike beings renowned for their agility and cleverness. They weigh about 50 pounds and stand just below 3’ tall. Chenot typically live in communities of their own, but sometimes dwell among humans, particularly in rural areas. Chenot are fascinated by relics of the Makers, whom they regard as gods. Many Chenot become adventurers precisely so that they can seek out sites associated with their deities.


The central trunk of all adult Chenot is encased within a shell of utechra-metal, giving them protection equivalent to plate armor (AC 3 [16]). Because of this, they can wear no other form of armor, though they can carry a shield, but it must be tailored to their small size. Chenot can use any weapons appropriate to their stature (as determined by the referee). They cannot use longbows or two-handed swords.


The Chenot can hear and speak, but can only speak their own language, which sounds to human ears like rustling, scraping leaves and branches in the wind. However, they can learn to understand other languages. Further, Chenot emit pheromones that enable any living, sentient being who has been within 60’ of them for at least one turn to understand their language, though not speak it (as most species lack the phsyical apparatus to do so). This effect lasts one day. After a week of regular, daily exposure, it lasts a year, and after a month of exposure it is permanent. 

Defensive Bonus

Due to their small size, Chenot gain a +2 bonus to Armor Class when attacked by large opponents (greater than human-sized). 


With their sensitive and flexible tendrils, Chenot can perform certain unusual feats, starting at a 1-in-6 chance of success in each. At 1st level, a Chenot can distribute 2 points among these skills, increasing the chance of success by one per point spent. At every level after first, the Chenot gains an additional point to distribute (to a maximum of 5-in-6 in any skill).

  • Climb sheer surfaces: A roll is required for each 100’ to be climbed. If the roll fails, the Chenot falls at the halfway point, suffering falling damage.  
  • Find or remove traps: A roll is required to find a trap and then another to remove it. This may be attempted only once per trap. 
  • Pick pockets: The Chenot’s roll is penalized by 1-in-6 for every three levels or hit dice of the intended target. The referee should determine the reaction of the target of a failed attempt (possibly using the reaction table). 
  • Search: When actively searching, a Chenot locate hidden compartments and secret doors.


Chenot require sunlight, water, and elemental nutrients for nourishment. They must spend at least 8 hours each day in their presence or suffer 1 point of damage per day they go without it. This damage cannot be healed by any means until sufficient nourishment is procured, at which point they regain 1 hit point per level every 8 hours until fully healed. While undernourished, Chenot move at half normal speed.


  1. Very nice.
    I'm somewhat unsure about the Regeneration Period.
    It sounds a somewhat oddly specific mechanic for something that has equivalents in the human species, like hunger and thirst.
    Wouldn't it be easier to leave the thing as a comparison to lack of food and water and make a reference to those mechanics? (If they are presented in OSE, that is)

    1. OSE has very loose rules for starvation, unfortunately, so had to come up with something on my own. That said, it's the one part of the class I'm least certain of, so alternative suggestions are appreciated.

    2. I'd probably go with less damage over a shorter period of time. Something along the lines of 1d2 every day of less than ideal nourishment, but I also got the impression you'd like Chenot to be hardier than humans, so probably 1d6 over 6 days is more appropriate to what you are aiming for.

    3. Good suggestions. I shall ponder this a bit.


      This seems a plausible natural history for the mobile plannimal, with that in mind as an epiphyte parasite it may not need sunlight at all. Instead it requires "live sapfeed" whose short-lived hormones and proteins can't withstand preservation. They're slowed because their starved limbs revert to "grasp and feed" programming (much as an octopus' tentacles can be inconveniently autonomous) and given plant pheromones their universal communication may falter then fail.

  2. Do chenot have a verbal, audible means of communication or only their telepathy? Can they hear? Are they able to eat food like other beings, or only consume light, water, and minerals like plants? Do they have a sense of taste?

    1. They cannot speak audibly, but they "hear" through their tendrils. Likewise, they cannot eat "normal" food. The sense of taste isn't something I'd thought about, but it's a good question. I shall have to consider it.

    2. So their ability to communicate is limited to touch? That seems very limiting.

    3. Yes, it is, but that was my intention. There are certain magic items and devices that can overcome this limitation, though.

    4. Ditto for smell. I take it they see just as well / poorly as humans, and don;t have any form of infravision or colour blindness?

    5. I kinda like that their only form of communication is touch-based - gives them a unique angle. It also fits in quite nicely with their stealthy approach - silent communication! They just have to be close by their other party members.

    6. Yes, their sight is the same as humans, more or less. I toyed with giving them "weird" sight of some kind, possible even classic D&D infravision, but decided against it in the end, since they're an above-ground species.

  3. I do have a question: can Chenot speak, or do they exclusively communicate through telepathy?

  4. Oh, and instead of "Regeneration Period," maybe call it "The Wilting"? 1 hp per day lacking seems more apropos as well...

  5. They look to have four tendrils. Is that a hard limit? Two to four for walking/climbing, but no more than two for arms/hands? Or can they squat down and use all four as arms/hands and be able to attack with up to four weapons? Are the tendrils limited to a 5 foot range or can they grow longer?

    1. I had assumed two and two, as you describe, for simplicity's sake, though your suggestion has some merit.

      Likewise, I'd intended to limit the tendrils' length, though the idea of their growing longer – perhaps with level? – is appealing.

      Thanks for this! Lots of food for thought.

  6. I have questions about the Chenot's telepathic communication with non-Chenot. You limit this to creatures with whom a Chenot shares a language, but how could a Chenot learn an auditory language? Chenot apparently communicate with each other telepathically, and their language cannot have a spoken version as they cannot speak. They can "hear," but this sense seems to be tactile: that is, what we experience as sound they would experience as tactile vibration. Given this, they might not recognize speech as language, since the medium of their own language is not such vibration. Even if they did recognize speech as language, how could they represent it telepathically as sound when they do not experience sound? The creature with whom a Chenot was communicating would presumably feel vibration rather than hearing speech.

    1. Excellent questions! I wish I had answers, but I hadn't even considered most of what you ask.

      Thanks for giving me more to think about.

    2. leaves can act as eardrums for the chenot, so they can hear languages by others, and translate that "sound" via telepathy just by "thinking in that foreign language" - they just can't speak it.