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Foss (singlular: Foss) are slightly stunted, wiry humanoids with gray-white skin and wide eyes. They have thin fingers with bulbous, arthritic-looking joints and fat fingertips and toes with which they can grip stone with amazing force. Their hair, always an unlovely shade of grey, dirt-brown, or dirty blonde, grows in two “locks” on either side of the head only; there is no matching body hair. Their faces are remarkably human, especially when young, but as they age all their features (nose, eyelids, cheeks, lips, and ears) sag in a rather unlovely fashion. Their huge eyes are especially off-putting to many of the other Kin of Man. They are almost constantly dirty, disheveled, and rudely dressed regardless of Wealth level. Their wiry musculature hints at an often surprising level of strength for their size.


Long aeons underground have changed the Foss into something… different. They can eat the plants and animals of the surface (just no saffron, it’s often lethal, thanks to a crippling allergy to the pollen of all surface flowers), but require heavy metal salts (common enough as inexpensive reagents in the alchemy trade) in their diet to be healthy. Bright sunlight is uncomfortable, but not nearly so much as the open sky itself, even at night. Not only can those huge, gray, Fossan eyes see shades of heat as well as light, but also the strange radio-emissions of the ores in their underground realm, the Deepdark, which fuel an alien ecology of black and purple plants that can grow without sunlight.


Foss have many advantages over their rivals in the underworld, but they have never been “top dog”. Caution tempered with curiosity rules their minds. To them, knowledge and skill at applying it are the only forms of power. They are excellent engineers and craftsmen, and most are quite adept at staying hidden and being quiet. If nothing else, their first reaction to danger is to try to climb to the ceiling and let it pass by. They are as capable of violence as any other race, they just know they are not built to be warriors, and try to win with wisdom and craft or stealth and guile, instead. Oddly enough, they tend to give strangers of any race or creed the benefit of the doubt, and thus mostly ignore most Social Stigma, Social Regard, and Status modifiers to Reaction rolls. They tend to find most non-Fossorians equally boring unless they practice an interesting trade. Of course, it could also be that, compared to the monstrous Kin of the Deeps living beside them, most surface races are pleasantly inoffensive…


Foss organize into Holdfasts, each centered around a particular cavern. Sometimes multiple Holds will form a League or Confederation for a few years or even permanently in order to accomplish some goal. Each Hold is ruled by a Council of Bosses made up of the top members of each important profession, as decided by their guild-like structure of Clades (Masons, Carpenters, Growers, Herders, Alchemists, Scouts, Miners, Smiths, Weavers, etc.). Each Hold selects a different Boss to be Fastlord based on philosophy. Those near a large number of enemies might choose the Boss of Scouts each year, while those that depend on the trade of textiles with their neighbors might always choose the Boss of Weavers. Advancement within a Clade is meritocratic, but tempered by political infighting similar to that in ivory-tower academia.


Each Holdfast (and each Clade therein) holds different records of why their ancestors descended below ground, each of which tends to agree with that Profession’s ideals. The Scouts hold that they were hiding from some horrible foe, the Miners claim they sought the wealth of the deeps, etc.


Foss tend to have simple names, supposedly the first discrete sounds they make as infants. When surnames or titles are required, they simply give their profession or an epithet based on it, unless they have a formal title. Examples: Oros Cooper, Pedron Wright, Geon the Smith, Begol, Boss of the Scouts, or Aleg, Fastlord of Twin Falls Hold.

Magic & Technology

Foss don’t actually have a higher Tech Level than the Campaign level of 3, but they make a lot more use of engineering in their daily lives. Elevators for moving goods (as the Foss themselves can wall-crawl) are very common, as are pneumatic or spring-driven mine cars and other fairly advanced mechanisms. Since smoke is difficult to dispose of underground, and most deep caverns are quite warm, fire is a seldom-seen power source, most often coming from the careful use of natural gas. Alchemy is an ancient and respected profession amongst the Foss, who make a mint trading rare ingredients with surface alchemists. Sorcery is not unknown, but it isn’t trusted either, as Magery has never been common enough to warrant becoming its own Clade (though it’s a well-known non-secret that the Clade of Alchemists counts a reasonable number of amateur sorcerers among its ranks). Few Foss sorcerers pursue serious development of their abilities, but of those who do, Diabolism is very common.

GURPS Template

It costs 8 Points to play a Foss.

Attribute Modifiers: DX+1 [20], IQ+1 [20]

Secondary Attribute Modifiers: None

Advantages: Absolute Direction (3D Spatial Sense, +5) [10], Acute Hearing +1 [2], Acute Touch +1 [2], Clinging (Rock Only, -40%) [12], Infravision [10], Lightning Calculator (Intuitive Mathematician, +3) [5], Single-Minded [5], Talent (Artificer) +2 [10]

Disadvantages: Agoraphobia (Mild, CR 15) [-5], Albinism (Weakness: Sunlight, Very Common, Variable, -40%, 1d-3 / 30 Min. & Unusual Feature: Extreme Pallor, -1) [-10], Appearance (Unattractive) [-4], Clueless [-10], Cowardice (Mild, CR 15, -1 Fright Checks) [-5], Curious (12) [-5], Dependency (Mineral Salts, Monthly, x1, Occasional) [-20], Odious Racial Habit (Unconcerned with Personal Grooming) [-5], Revulsion (Flower Pollen, Occasional) [-10], Shyness (Mild) [-5], Unusual Biochemistry [-5]

Quirks: Congenial [-1], Likes to Sleep While Clinging [-1], Prefers to Go Barefoot [-1], Tends to Whisper [-1]

Skills: Survival (Underground) (A) Per+1 [4]-12, Climbing (A) DX [2]-11

0-Point Features: Size Modifier -1, Eligible to purchase the 25-point version of Gadgeteer with no Unusual Background requirement (not all Foss are Gadgeteers, yet they are quite common)


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