Athames, also known to other races as Witchknives, are a race of toadish, goblin-like creatures imbued with powerful psionics in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Witchknives have tough skin that ranges in color from dark brown to ruddy orange. They have short red horns in the places where other creatures have hair. Their eyes are orange or yellow with red pupils. A typical witchknife stands 5 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds.
“Witchknife” is the name other creatures use to refer to a race of humanoids that have the power to compel victims to do their bidding with but a single utterance. This power, and their tendency to stab foes in the back, are the reasons behind the name. These creatures call themselves athames. Witchknives live in small settlements, hiding in deserts and other forbidding locations, while they plot to regain from the world what they believe they once had.
One athame legend tells of a time when all creatures spoke one language and athames ruled the world. Their word was law, and other creatures obeyed any command the athames gave. Then a deity interfered and taught the athames’ subjects to speak new languages. This broke the athames’ power over them, and the subjects, who feared and hated the athames despite their magnanimous rule, rebelled and tore the athame empire to pieces. This legend can be refuted in many ways, one of which is that different athame settlements blame different deities for their downfall, but nonetheless all athames believe the legend with a religious fervor.
This much of the athames’ legend is true: Other races do fear and hate the witchknives. The power of the witchknives to control creatures with a word drives other races to desperate actions in order to oppose them. Elves have allied with orcs, and giants with dwarves, in efforts to root out and destroy witchknife settlements.
A witchknife’s psionic ability to command others relies on the target creatures being able to understand the witchknife. Thus, witchknives learn to speak many languages. All of them speak Common and Undercommon, and most know four other languages. Typical choices include Dwarven, Elven, Giant, and Goblin.
Witchknives live in small enclaves that rarely have more than two hundred adults, hidden from the civilizations of other races. These enclaves have a hierarchy of rank determined by birth, but most witchknives are of equal rank and have many rights and privileges. Witchknives do not use their psionic abilities on witchknives of equal or higher rank except in training exercises. Witchknives live in an austere and monastic manner inside their fortress-like homes. Those not involved in the tasks of day-to-day survival and subsistence spend most of their time meditating, training for combat, or learning at the library. Witchknife leaders tend to be rogues or monks. Most witchknife clerics worship Mnemeer, the Great Mediator, as the source of their psionics. They can choose from the Knowledge, Magic, and Trickery domains.
In Eberron, Witchknives dwell primarily on the continent of Sarlona, in the desolated desert canyons of Riedra. Witchknives are adversaries of the Inspired, and witchknife clans forced out of Riedra have taken refuge in the jagged mountain ranges of neighboring Adar or fled the continent of Sarlona altogether, erecting small settlements in the Demon Wastes of Khorvaire.
Witchknife characters possess the following racial traits.
- +6 Dexterity, –2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +6 Charisma.
- Medium size.
- A witchknife’s base land speed is 30 feet.
- Low-light vision.
- Racial Hit Dice: A witchknife begins with nine levels of monstrous humanoid, which provide 9d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +9, and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +3, Ref +6, and Will +6.
- Racial Skills: A witchknife’s monstrous humanoid levels give it skill points equal to 12 × (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1). Its class skills are Concentration, Hide, Sense Motive, Speak Language, and Spot.
- Racial Feats: A witchknife’s monstrous humanoid levels give it four feats.
- Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A witchknife is automatically proficient with all simple weapons, light armor and shields (except tower shields).
- +1 natural armor bonus.
- Special Attacks:
- Psionics (Sp): At will—command (DC 16), message, silence (self only; dismiss as a free action); 1/day—greater command (DC 18). Effective caster level 9th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
- Sneak Attack (Ex): A witchknife can make a sneak attack like a rogue, dealing an extra 2d6 points of damage whenever a foe is denied its Dexterity bonus or when the witchknife is flanking.
- Special Qualities: Resistance to fire 5, vulnerability to sonic.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Any except secret languages such as Druidic.
- Favored Class: Rogue.
- Level Adjustment +3.