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Ecology of the Tarek

Violent and aggressive, Tarek tribes terrorize the mountains they inhabit under the commands of their earth shamans.


By: Robert Adducci

Tarek from the DSCS Rules Book by Brom, courtesy of WotC

With strong brows, long arms, thick hides, and a maw full of sharp teeth, tareks are well adapted to the wastes of Athas. These large brutish beings are a terror to behold; sweeping down on unknowing caravans with the blessings of their earth shamans upon them. Of the many races that wander the Tablelands, tareks have a bond with earth and stone like no other. It is whispered by those who know of such things that the tarek people were created by a fearsome entity of elemental earth.

History of the Tarek people

Life as a slave race

Targyulek, Domitor of Stone, a mighty primordial earth lord, created the tarek people using the mutating magic of the Pristine Tower. The tarek were Targyulek's last hope in staving off the incursion of the defiler Abalach-Re, future Sorcerer-Queen of Raam. The earth primordial made the tarek with a savage vision, he ingrained them with a worship of the earth and a natural hatred for defilers. Just as two plates of earth work together to cause massive earthquakes, tarek are naturally inclined to work together to crush their foes. For a time it seemed that with the aid of his creations Targyulek would defeat the would-be sorcerer-queen.

It is said Abalach-Re cursed the earth primordial with madness by showing Targyulek the wasteland that Athas would become once the sorcerer-kings took power. Whatever the cause, the Domitor of Stone failed, and the result of that final encounter had dire consequences for the tarek of the tablelands.

Seething with madness, Targyulek commanded his creations to make war on all of the fledgling sorcerer-monarchs and their people wherever they were found. With no thought to themselves, the tareks did as their primordial lord commanded and threw the weight of the earth against the great defilers. In the initial assaults, many of the tarek people were slaughtered by the sorcerer-monarchs and their templars so that the tarek forces were soon reduced to bands of raiders.

Earth shaman revolt

The tarek returned to their stone holes and earthen ramparts to lick their wounds, but the Domitor of Stone would not relent. Targyulek urged his people make perpetual war on the great defilers. Ever dutiful, the tarek followed their master. What else could they do? They were the made of the stone of Targyulek.

Some years later, as the tarek continued their lost cause, a great shaman named Ziraksuyl had a revelation. It was revealed to him that there were other elemental earth lords; other great beings of stone and rock who would respect their worship instead of granting them only madness and death. With this knowledge, and the reassurance of other primordial lords, Ziraksuyl began teaching the tareks a way that was new, yet familiar to them.

With these new ideas the tribes began to squabble about the ways of Earth and Rock. Those loyal to Targyulek made war on the followers of Ziraksuyl and his new primordial master. Before long, the tareks ceased fighting with the agents of the sorcerer-kings and were consumed with an inner struggle to free themselves from the domination of a crazed primordial. The battle raged for years, and as Targyulek's madness deepened, his grip on Athas weakened.

Eventually, the war of tarek against tarek grew less as the few crazed followers of Targyulek fled into the wastes. Ziraksuyl's followers had, like the earth they were crafted from, endured and won. Targyulek has been forgotten by most tarek tribes, but a few still pay homage to their deranged creator.

Beliefs and Culture

Tarek tribes continue as they have since their beginning, with leadership going to the most capable leader. This is usually the strongest, most violent warrior whether male or female. This warrior will lead their tribe in raids to the surrounding lands with full wrath shown to elven tribes, gith clans, or any group using arcane magic.

Magic

Tribal shamans have further ingrained the tarek people to believe that arcane magic was the cause for their creation and the focal point for their hatred. It is this intense hatred of arcane magic and unpredictable violence that have isolated the tarek tribes from other Athasian cultures. As a result they have become even more isolated and xenophobic, depending more heavily on shamans for knowledge of the world outside of their territory.

Earth Worship

The betrayal and madness of Targulek has left a deep psychological scar on the tarek people. While they still worship and revere the earth and its spirits they are also afraid of their power. It is for this reason that they keep their earth shamans at arm’s length.

The earth shamans of tarek tribes always live well outside the area the tribe usually inhabit, but within the tribe's mountainous or hilly territory. The tribe pays homage to the earth spirits with food and other necessities, which are left at small shrines (usually within protected rock alcoves) for the shaman. The shaman act as spiritual leaders, councilors, and medicine men for those of the tribe brave enough to climb cliff faces to find their hidden homes. Occasionally one of these brave souls will be taken on as an apprentice. After some time learning the ways of the Earth, apprentices are often sent off to other shamans to learn the ways of other tribes. It is from this practice that the various tarek tribes keep a common culture.

Psionics

The Way is generally a foreign concept to most tareks. Psionics manifest themselves in the majority of tareks as a force of The Will, and as such those tareks who have psionics are usually wild talents. Many tribal leaders are Wilders (Dark Sun Campaign Setting p74) who have used their psionics as an edge in tribal combat. Those tareks who are able to train in the psionic arts usually become Battleminds, and some who leave the savage tribal lifestyle join monasteries to become Monks.

Physiology of the Tarek

Physically tareks are a tall, tough race. They have long arms and short legs, compared to a human, and they are often seen using their long powerful arms to aid them in running. Their skin can be any color and texture of stone, usually varying by tribe. As creations of an elemental being, tareks are comfortable with their natural earthy, musky smell. Tareks will not bathe with water, but have been know to rub dirt on themselves to dry and remove blood if necessary.

Tareks have square thick boned heads with pronounced brow ridges and will often head butt foes in combat. They have pointed ears and flat wide noses. Most adult tareks have a muzzle full of teeth filed to points, this is done as a rite of passage and is the mark of a warrior in their tribal society.

Physically tareks are most well known for their ability to continue fighting despite a mortal blow. Most assume this is a side effect of their violent and aggressive dispositions, but a few curious arena necromancers who have chosen to get to the heart of that matter have discovered that all members of the tarek race possess two hearts. It is this second heart that allows tareks a few more moments to dispatch their enemies or receive the healing blessings of their earth shamans.

Tareks in Combat

Whether for their fearsome visage or deathless prowess, tareks are prized as slaves and warriors of the arenas of all seven cities of the Tyr Region.

In daily life tareks are often viewed as a lumbering dull race by people of the Tablelands, but in the midst of war there are few creatures with more grace. Their long arms allow for smooth flowing movements backed up with terrible strength. Their short thick legs allow for powerful charges and leaps. In addition, some say that the tarek people are innately linked psionically at a very primitive, allowing for a level of cooperation and teamwork not seen in other races.

The tarek ability to fight beyond a mortal blow is forefront in their minds during a melee. If they believe they can strike a killing blow tareks have no problem showing a vulnerability to kill their foe. Tareks are immensely loyal to each other and will willingly take a blow for their tribe-mates or arena partner.

Heart Pick courtesy of WotC Hand Fork courtesy of WotC

Weapons

In the arena or in tribal raids tareks are oft seen wielding some combination of the dreaded heartpick and the vicious hand fork. The heartpick is usually made of bone and consists of a thin serrated curved blade set perpendicular to a two foot shaft. While the blade is set to the front the back of a heartpick is either a flat head or a short spike. The hand fork is composed of a one handed hilt and a crossbar. From the crossbar extends three dagger like blades, the outer blades are slightly curved away from the center blade and the center blade is slightly shorter. The outer blades are usually made of stone while the inner blade is made of obsidian. The hand fork is also commonly used as a ceremonial weapon, thus it is not unheard of to find it made from iron or steel.

Tareks commonly fight with two weapons, either two heartpicks or heartpick and handfork where the hand fork is primarily used as a parrying, offhand weapon. Using their natural teamwork tarek are often seen parrying blows for each other using the hand fork. For ranged weapons, tareks commonly use stone or bone tipped javelins.

Most tribal tareks will not wear any type of armor, instead relying on their tough hide, or the blessings of their earth shamans. Tareks that have become gladiators or have otherwise come to inhabit the city-states will wear armor that still offers freedom of moment, such as hide or leather.




Tarek Lands

Tarek prefer to be surrounded by earth and stone. Their tribal villages are most often found in mountains, but they also make their homes in cliff faces amid rocky badlands, or in underground caves in hilly terrain. A few tarek tribes have even been known to make crude stone huts in flatter terrain.

Tribes of the Beastbarrens

The mutating magic of the Pristine Tower has warped many tarek tribes, making the tarek tribes of the Beastbarrens are some of the most xenophobic and savage of all tarek tribes. The Tribe of Ghurmazl especially. Ghurmazl is a tarek who was born near the Tower and his stone-like skin mutation has ensured that the fists and weapons of challengers and enemies do not harm him. Ghurmazl is chief of the Ghazkulg (Stone Skin) Tribe, a large tribe that numbers nearly 200. The Ghazkulg regularly make war with the minotaur half-giants of the Broken Butte.

Contrary to the personality of Ghurmazl is Havrathak, a particularly cunning tarek who rules of small tribe of 30 members. Havrathak's tribe is known as the Kisukreg (Pure Blood) Tribe. Havrathak regularly purges any tareks with the slightest mutation. The Kisugreg earth shamans espouse that the way they were created is the way they should remain.

Tribes of the Guantlets

While the Beastbarrens have many tarek tribes, others have traveled far from where they were created near the Pristine Tower. In the mountains called the Guantlets east of Raam loyal descendants of Targyulek's followers remain. Theses tribes have fully succumbed to their mad lords will. The tribes of Kisutrek (, Stone Blood), and Targgol (Earth Bound) continue the war of their mad creator, attacking all within their territories. Each of these tribes number between 50 and 60.

Tribes of The Mountains of the Teeth

The Fhahdrek tribe of the Mountains of the Teeth, on the southern edge of the Estuary of the Forked tongue, have turned from the worship of earth. One of the few tribes to break away from earth worship, the Fhadrek tribe worships a primordial fire being and sing its praises when they make war on the Tamwar people to the south. Hazruken, tarek shaman of the Fhadrek rules the tribe with a fiery fist. The Fhadrek tribe has around 80 members.

Tribes of the Ringing Mountains

Southwest of Tyr the Groggond (Mountains Sons) Tribe is the undisputed master of several mountain peaks and valleys high in the Ringing Mountains. Despite their isolation, or perhaps because of it, the Groggond Tribe is more open to visitors than other tarek tribes. The lord of the Groggond is Trazyuk, a powerful natural psion who leads his tribe with intelligence and cunning. Trazyuk is not physically the strongest in his tribe, but he is no weakling, as many contenders to his position have found, being receiving end of his crushing mind powers.

Tareks of Note

Aside from the chiefs and shamans of the above tribes, many tarek have left their people to make a name for themselves or to leave the savage culture of their people.

Kester is the captain of the Shadow Viper, a slave run silt skimmer based in Balic. Kester flaunts her wealth by wearing three copper hoops in her ears. Kester is honorable and if she has taken money for a service she will complete it to the best of her ability.

Chilod, leads the village of Pillage in the Bandit States far to the north. Pillage has a volatile mix of races from humans and tarek, to b'rohg and braxat. Chilod leads through intimidation and directs his villagers' anger outward, toward the other Bandit States.

Vreketh, one time gladiator turned stable master in Balic. This tarek has a nasty disposition and has killed several of his own gladiators, but the bottom line pleases the Balican nobles who sponsor his stable. Vreketh hires scores of slave hunters to find the very best that the wastes offer. He specializes in unusual, intelligent gladiators such as braxat, anakore, b'rogh, and other beings of the Tablelands, including his own people.

Trengellek & Krellesk, better known as Pick and Fork, are a free gladiator pair that travel the seven City-States. The gladiator pair were given their freedom by a Tyrian templar named Dyonis Moisakos in exchange for traveling the City-States and reporting on what the pair sees.

Enemies and Allies

At best, tarek are indifferent to most of the races of the Tablelands, but they harbor a special hatred for gith. Tarek believe the gith corrupt the land with their foul ways. Gith and tarek also seek to inhabit the same territories, such as mountain ranges and rocky badlands, causing competition for the meager food and water that Athas offers.

The tarek hatred of defiling is extended to all arcane magic and any who wield it. Chief among these offenders are the elven people. Elves, who are known for their love of magic, are reviled for their association with all things arcane. If two enemies present themselves, tareks will usually choose to attack the elf. If a gith and an elf present themselves as enemies a tarek warrior has a difficult choice to make.

Few races will ally themselves with tarek, but the Hejkin do so willingly and often. The earth creatures have much in common such as devoted worship to earth, hatred of spellcasters, and maintain violent societies. Tarek and Hejkin earth shamans often trade primal mysteries and worldly information for the good of both races. Mixed war parties often work together to destroy gith and elf clans, with the hejkin coming from below as the tarek raid from the surface.

Tareks as PCs:

To make a tarek PC choose the Half-Orc race in the character builder. Your game stats are the same as the Half-Orc. Below you'll find story traits specific to the tarek race.

Tarek by Baxa courtesy of WotC

Playing a Tarek:

Tough as stone, savage as the wastes

Racial Traits
   Average Height: 5’6”-6’4"
   Average Weight: 175-300lbs

Ability Scores:  +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution or +2 Strength

Size:Medium

Speed:6 squares

Vision:Low-Light

Languages:Common, Giant

Skill Bonuses:+2 Endurance, +2 Intimidate

Tarek Toughness(Half-Orc Resilience):The first time you are bloodied during an encounter, you gain 5 temporary hit points. The temporary hit point increase to 10 at 11th level and to 15 at 21st level. As an optional house rule this can be changed to "the first time you are dropped to 0 hp or less"

Knuckle Charge(Swift Charge):You gain a +2 bonus to speed when charging.

Furious Assault:You have the furious assault power.

Created by a primordial lord of earth to battle defilers, tareks are the epitome of Athas' toughness and savageness. They dwell in the hilly and mountainous areas of the Tablelands battling all who encroach on their territory. Tarek earth shamans bolster their peoples' strength with the blessings of stone. With strong ties to Earth, some tareks leave their tribes to pursue a more civilized life amongst Athas other inhabitants.

Play a tarek if you want to be …
fast, strong, and tough
to embrace the savageness of the wastes
to be a member of a race that favors the barbarian, fighter, monk, ranger, rogue, and warden classes.

Physical Qualities

Born of the mutating magic of the Pristine Tower and primordial energies of the Elemental Chaos, tareks embody the savageness of Athas. They have ruddy thick skin, long arms, a sloped forehead with heavy brow ridges, and slightly pointed ears. Their short legs give them an ungainly gait which gives way to grace in the midst of slaying their foes in combat.

Tareks who have proven themselves in battle will often notch their own ears. Combined with a common practice of filing their teeth into sharp points, tarek take on a bestial visage. Their skin and eye color are usually earthy tones with dark brown being the most common, and gray or red-orange less so. Tareks are hairless, and are known to emit a strong musky odor.

While they mature at the same rate as humans, tareks do not usually live to see their 40th High Sun do to their brutal culture and violent nature.

Tarek Adventurers

Tarek leave their tribes for many reasons. These reasons can include a time of wandering if the tarek is an earth priest, or perhaps they have grown tired of the brutal lifestyle of the tarek people and seek a more civilized life. A brave warrior may also have been sent on a quest for the tribe or an earth shaman.

In the "civilized" lands of the Tablelands, tareks sometimes have difficulty adjusting to the soft culture of the city-dwellers. Tareks often have to restrain themselves from challenging others to prove their strength on a regular basis. However, if a matched pair of tareks enters the arena, their savage nature as gladiators can provide them bloody outlets.

Many tareks are brought to the civilized world against their wishes as slaves. As a slave, a tarek will usually be used as brute force labor or sent to the arenas as a gladiator. Should a tarek be freed from slavery, some will continue with the civilized life, often adventuring or joining a slave tribe - a lifestyle that is reminiscent of their tribal roots.

Tarek culture raises brutal xenophobic raiders and few tareks have remorse or a conscience to hold them back. Whether raised in a tarek tribe or a gladiator school, tarek young are subjected to severe training and toil. As a result tarek usually take time to warm to others, if at all. Many remain violent destructive sociopaths, but a few can overcome their upbringing. A tarek who has befriended members of another race is a fierce loyal ally.

Tarek Characteristics:

Savage, brutal, short-tempered, xenophobic, loyal, steadfast, violent

Male Names: Kilorthrak, Rathgikek, Lywfenk, Trathsuyl, Kissfedg

Female Name: Felorn, Kester, Kisal, Zikulg,  Gystun, Tragun

Tarek Backgrounds

Their brutish nature usually leads tareks to a life of slavery or into the employ of a merchant lord, templar, or noble. Here they become great champions of the arena or stalwart warriors.

Broken, Beaten, Scarred (p21 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Freedom's Call(p21 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Tattooed Warrior (p21 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Driven Bounty Hunter (p161 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Wanted in the Seven Cities(p161 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Isolated Monastery (p172 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Mountain Tribe(p172 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Secret Order (p182 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Freed Slave(p134 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)
Outcast(p192 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide)

House Rule:

House Rule button

While tareks are mechanically similar to a half-orc they have some traits outside of that race’s typical abilities. To make use of these abilities click the House Rules button in the Character Builder in either the Powers section or the Feats section.

Tarek Powers:

As beings made by an earthen primordial tareks have a bond with the stone like few others on Athas. In addition they are renowned for working together, especially in the arenas of the seven cities. Instead of the Furious Assault power tareks may instead take any of the following powers at characters creation as their racial power.

Earthshock - Genasi Racial Power
Earth Shield Strike - Warden Attack 1
Hungry Earth - Warden Attack 1
Strength of Stone - Warden Attack 1
Hunter's Teamwork - Ranger Attack 1

Tarek feats

Tareks may take Half-Orc feats as if they were a half-orc,. Tareks may also take any of the following feats as if they met all the non-level requirements at any time, they must still meet the level requirements. The Primal Resilience (Half-Orc) feat is especially appropriate for tarek characters.

Heroic

Brutal Teamwork
Teamwork Defense
Double Team
Psionic Fury - Half-Orc
Strong Arm Tactics - Half-Orc
Anger Unleashed - Half-Orc
Savage Assault - Half Orc
Thirst for Battle - Half Orc
Primal Resilience  - Half Orc
Brimming Wrath - Half Orc
Dutiful Servant (Stalwart Team mate) - Goliath
Natural Intimidator - Goliath
Pick Proficiency
Pick Expertise
Deep Gash
Elsir Hammer Student (Tarek Heartpick Student)

Paragon

Fearsome Assault 11th Level - Half Orc
Strength from Pain  11th Level- Half Orc
Avalanche Reaver (Tarek Tenacity) - Goliath
Enduring Wallop
Piercing Pick

Epic

Knock Back Swing
Pick Mastery

Weapons

For the tarek Heartpick choose any of the pick family. Serrated Pick is especially fitting.

For the Hand Fork choose Parrying Dagger.

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