Heavily muscled and covered with thick scales and short, sharp horns, the reptilian vesk are exactly as predatory and warlike as they appear. Originally hailing from a star system near the Pact Worlds, they sought to conquer and subdue their stellar neighbors, as they had all the other
intelligent races in their own system, until an overwhelming threat forced them into a grudging alliance with the Pact Worlds—for now.
+2 Strength, +2 Constitution, and -2 Intelligence
6 hit points at first level
Vesk are Medium humanoids with the vesk subtype
Vesk use armor in a way that complements their uniquely sturdy physiology. When wearing armor, they gain a +1 racial bonus to AC. When
they’re wearing heavy armor, their armor check penalty is 1 less severe than normal.
Vesk receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against fear effects.
Vesk can see in dim light as if it were normal light. For more details, see page 264.
Vesk are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal damage with unarmed strikes and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. Vesk gain a unique weapon specialization with their natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing them to add 1–1/2 × their character level to their damage rolls for their natural weapons (instead of just adding their character level, as usual).
The lizard-like vesk stand close to 7 feet tall, are thick with muscle, and are covered in tough, scaly skin. Though they’ve long since adopted technological weapons, they retain the thick claws and teeth of natural predators and enjoy using them to intimidate “softer” races. In addition, they also have long, powerful tails—while these are primarily used for balance, some vesk martial arts incorporate formidable tail slaps. Small horn spikes dot the skulls of both sexes, and protrude from their lower jaws in bony “beards” that sometimes extend down their spines to their tails. Female vesk are often larger than their male counterparts, and whereas males are various shades of green, females often have vibrant, mottled coloration that’s considered an indicator of both health and attractiveness.
Vesk first arose on a single world around their sun but quickly spread to the others, turning potential competitor races (as the vesk saw them) into vassals in the vast empire they call the Veskarium. Today, these other worlds officially no longer even have names, only numbers correlating to their distance from the sun (such as Vesk-6). The exception to this rule is Vesk Prime, vesk’s ancestral home, which remains the seat of their government and high society.
SOCIETY AND ALIGNMENT
Vesk society is highly organized and militaristic. While merchants and others with peaceful professions can advance economically, political power is the exclusive domain of those who’ve proven themselves in armed conflict. Surprisingly, this proof doesn’t need to come through military service, or even benefit the Veskarium. Many vesk attain similar elevation in social status through performing mercenary work, engaging in dueling, or providing security on exploration missions. Though obsessed with conquest, dominance, and social rank, vesk have an equally strong sense of honor and pride in fulfilling their agreements and treating subordinates of all races fairly. They are stoic and taciturn with strangers but capable of great bursts of emotion in private or in the heat of battle. Vesk society tends to be efficient, respectful, and law-abiding—especially since nearly any insult or violation of custom could trigger a brutally violent blood debt. Even outside of their home system, vesk are most often lawful, though usually according to their own code of honor rather than that of whatever society they happen to be in. They tend toward a neutral morality, though individuals can easily skew good or evil.
Vesk’s love of military conquest and empire building originally led to significant skirmishes between their star system and the nearby Pact Worlds, and the ensuing conflict—often called the Silent War—might have continued indefinitely had the Swarm not attacked both systems simultaneously. Banding together for mutual defense, vesk and Pact Worlds cultures successfully fought off the Swarm, forging a tentative peace in the process. Vesk respect honor, strength, and self-mastery. Though their relations with the races of the Pact Worlds remain strained
due to the only barely averted war, they admire androids’ dispassionate consistency, kasathas’ sense of honor, and the strength of lashuntas in battle. However, they find ysoki weak and frivolous, and humans quick to break their agreements. Shirrens perplex vesk with their refusal to parlay their strengths, including their instinctive coordination in battle and willingness to die for their comrades, into an empire.
Vesk adventuring with races from other systems fall into two categories. The first are mercenaries or glory-seekers looking for a chance to engage in honorable combat and build up their prestige. The second are nonwarrior vesk who have rejected their home society for its obsession with combat and have chosen instead to seek opportunities among more open-minded races. Warrior vesk most often fit the soldier class, though a growing number have become intrigued by the path of the solarian. Noncombatant vesk often lean toward becoming mystics, though some overcome the traditional vesk culture’s dismissal of education to become mechanics or even technomancers.
Vesk names are often long and combine elements of their parents’ names, as well as those of other prominent ancestors. These are frequently shortened for daily use by friends, though abridging a vesk’s name without permission is a grave insult. In addition, some vesk take on epithets related to their victories in combat, which they sometimes use in addition to or in place of a family name, such as “Three Guns,” “Voidwalker,”
or “Squadeater.” Some sample vesk names include Dmotralan, Evdokayo, Goromitali, Julakesh, Katara, Obozaya, Radokama, Sarangari, Sobok, Terikoraz, and Ymeros-Ahandi.