Back in January and February, I posted the veytikka, the beruch, and the kagandi. A fourth new race was always intended to go along with them, though I've struggled with the name (originally "rindari") and concept of this race for quite some time. My goal is that this race is something new in the world, created as the result of a ritual. In theory, a lot of races in tabletop games were created through (successful or flawed) ritual at some point in their history - I point here to the Bael Turath backstory for tieflings, the creation of mojh in Arcana Evolved, and probably plenty more. This is a variation on those ideas, placing the ritual as a single event (unlike the rituals that create each separate mojh) and in the recent past (unlike the distant, mist-shrouded history of the Turathi tieflings).
From a rules side, I also wanted to try something different; 3.x has templates that characters can receive, while 4e has the not-quite-a-race-in-itself revenants. Revenants have access to their own pool of racial feats (many of which are crazy awesome) while also gaining access to the feats of their designated "original" race - whatever they were in life. This can reveal some marginal exploits that have cropped up over the course of 4e design. As I've mentioned before in passing, Dwarven Weapon Training is a very good feat, intended as far as I can tell to compensate dwarf fighters, Strength paladins, melee rangers, warlords, barbarians, wardens, Strength clerics, and runepriests for the fact that dwarves don't get a racial bonus to Strength. Instead, they gain from a single feat both +2 to damage with a broad category of weapons, and access to superior axes and hammers (which generally boil down to a free +1 or so average damage, though the Brutal property makes these even more notable). In the original rules, this is a very good feat, but its rules balance is just fine - the compensation is pretty much necessary. When you take this feat as a revenant (+2 Dex, +2 Con) assassin (attack stat: Dex), it's not compensation - it's just weapon-induced facial murder time. (Power creep being what it is, though, it's only on par with Githzerai Weapon Training... fucking fullblades.)
But I digress: the point I want to make is that I want this race to be a +0 ECL template for 3.x (because even +1 ECL makes a template incredibly unappealing to most spellcasters, and pretty unappealing to non-spellcasters), so I'll be thinking about applicable drawbacks. I want something that is comparable to revenants, but perhaps bearing a stronger resemblance to the original race. Thanks to these tricks of the rules, the two versions will have some meaningful differences in how they work in-game.
The Parthé, Parthala's Kindred, the People of the Rite
Twenty years ago, the mage-priest Parthala learned of a forthcoming demonic invasion that, if not halted in its earliest stages, would result in the ruin of an entire continent. She needed a small army in short order, but over the course of three months could find only four hundred volunteers to what seemed like a suicide mission. Desperate now to transform them into a capable fighting force, she performed a ritual that she had found in the most ancient and secret depths of the archives of the Talendi church. Church records hinted that this ritual had been performed at least once before, but even the names of the lands in which it was performed were unfamiliar.
In a single and costly ceremony, Parthala's four hundred volunteers were transformed and empowered for battle. Talend and Vashtal together stripped Parthala of her power for a year and a day as a rebuke for her presumption, but they too wished to see the demonic invasion prevented, and they permitted the ritual to succeed. Those transformed by the ritual, who have come to be called the Parthé, can gain unbelievable physical prowess for short periods of time, though the energies that fuel this state take a toll on them. The Parthé included humans, kagandi, and even a few veytikka (the beruch not yet having left Erenn Kemesa). The ritual left an outward sign of its power upon them: veins of copper cover their skin, concentrated especially around the eyes and over the heart. They otherwise remain recognizable members of their original race.
In the end, Parthala's Kindred turned aside the demonic invasion, though only sixty-eight of them survived. In the time since then, they have learned that the ritual's power descends through family lines, whenever two Parthé produce a child. A Parthé who produces offspring with a non-Parthé of their original race creates a Parthé as their firstborn, while all later children will be normal.
Though there have been some who have since condemned the Parthé as dangerous abominations, reactions to them are largely positive; the survivors were heroes even before joining Parthala, and many hailed them as saviors afterward. Parthic veytikka in particular have found that they are more readily accepted than their unchanged kin.
Parthic Template (3.x)
"Parthic" is an inherited template that can be applied to humans, kagandi, and veytikka. There may be circumstances that allow a Parthic beruch to be created.
A Parthé uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Supernatural Abilities: Once per day, the creature may use enlarge person as a supernatural ability. This increases to twice per day at character level 5, three times per day at character level 10, four times per day at character level 15, and five times per day at character level 20. The caster level of this effect is equal to the creature's level or Hit Dice. (Designer's note: I specifically want this to not be countered or dispelled, but still stopped by anti-magic zones.)
Special Qualities:Parthic creatures are vulnerable to force effects, receiving an additional two points of damage per die for force effects that do not allow a save, or a -2 saving throw penalty against effects that do allow a saving throw.
Abilities:They may choose either their normal racial adjustments, or take a +2 bonus to Constitution and a -2 penalty to Dexterity.
Skills: +2 racial bonus to Intimidate. While their supernatural enlarge person is active, they gain a +4 racial bonus to Concentration.
Alignment: No change, except to note that Parthala recruited only good- or neutral-aligned people originally.
Level Adjustment: +0
Parthé (4e stats)
A Parthic character may choose to apply either his native racial ability score adjustments or (+2 Str, +2 Con) at character creation (these may not be changed once chosen).
A Parthic character may apply either his native skill adjustments, or may substitute in +2 Endurance and +2 Intimidate. The character may choose to substitute in only one of these. (Humans either substitute both for their extra trained skill, or substitute neither.)
A Parthic character gains a second racial encounter, Parthic Might, and may use either this power or his native racial encounter power in any given encounter. (Non-Essentials humans either use their additional at-will, or this power.)
A Parthic character continues to qualify for the racial feats of their base race, as well as any Parthic racial feats.
Parthic Might - Parthé Racial Power Your limbs twist and contort, growing to monstrous size, as arcane power arcs across your skin. Your armor, fortunately, grows with you. The strain of maintaining your size and ferocity are quick to take their toll, however. Encounter Move Action OR Immediate Reaction - Personal (Trigger: You become bloodied.) Effect: Your reach increases by 1, you gain a +1 bonus to all defenses, and you gain temporary hit points equal to your Constitution bonus. You receive ongoing 5 psychic damage, which may not be avoided or reduced by any other effect (including temporary hit points) and stacks with other sources of ongoing psychic damage. When you successfully save against this effect, you lose the additional reach and the bonus to defenses. You may choose to fail this save. The benefits of Parthic Might and the related ongoing damage both end immediately if you fall unconscious.